There, there will be a large kitchen. Here, a cafeteria. In the center, huge refrigerated rooms and storage space for freezing. The Moisson Rive-Sud organization will soon become a neighbor of the National Aeronautics School (ENA), near the Saint-Hubert airport. An expansion that will allow it to take out the pots to reduce waste and its ecological footprint, by launching into the processing of fresh food.

The primary objective is to sort, cut, blanch, freeze and bag vegetables before they rot. The first to go will be carrots, potatoes, onions, green beans, broccoli and cauliflower.

In the not-so-distant future, the Montérégie food hub also hopes to can tomatoes, vegetables, fruits, even soups and other processed foods for its 153 organizations, including 25 schools. Managers even see the possibility of cooking meals at a good price for ENA students. All while getting involved in social reintegration by hiring staff in its kitchens, by adding a chef to its ranks.

The team at the head of the organization fighting food insecurity offered a tour of its construction site to La Presse. The future 30,000 square foot warehouse is emerging on a plot of land almost four times larger than the current cramped facilities in Boucherville.

“To manage the ever-increasing demand, it takes more than millions of celery plants. We want quantity, quality and variety to help the world eat better. There are limits to managing pallets of broccoli without processing them,” illustrates the general director of Moisson Rive-Sud, Dany Hétu, explaining that organizations throw away 5 to 10% of the fresh food they receive, due to lack of be able to keep them.

The clientele in need continues to increase, as do the challenges of finding food, explained the Moisson Rive-Sud team, made up of Louis Dubé, chairman of the board of directors, Marie-Claude Savaria, director of development philanthropic and finance, and Pauline Marie, director of business development.

“Grocers have all modified their practices to reduce waste as much as possible with logistics to predict demand,” explains Ms. Savaria. Sometimes we have to buy food. In context, it is essential to optimize. I am thinking, among other things, of what we receive from producers, farmers and market gardeners, during harvest time, for example during the apple season. »

Elsewhere, in what is called the network of Food Banks of Quebec (BAQ), an anti-waste movement is taking root, with processing, community catering, even through a thrift store, in Granby. In the Trois-Rivières region, the Moisson Mauricie organization is equipped to dehydrate certain foods. Martin Munger is the senior leader of the BAQ network. The organization manages the Supermarket Recovery Program (SRP) with Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys, for redistribution to organizations. According to him, after a decline, we are currently seeing an increase in products from grocers.

Figure: 8,552 metric tons of fresh food are distributed each year by large grocers to food banks in Quebec. Since the food is consumed instead of being thrown away or composted, the distribution avoids the emission of 4,758 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, or the pollution emitted by 1,032 vehicles on the road during a year, according to Mr. Munger, BAQs.

A professor specializing in the political economy of food at the University of Montreal, Sébastien Rioux believes that food should be a fundamental right. In Quebec, he points out, there are about 2 million requests for food aid each month. And these requests do not always come from the same people; the profile of hungry people has changed, he points out.

“With inflation, people are going to food banks to help pay the mortgage. We have to reinvent ourselves, it takes a revolution in food. Why not offer lunch in schools? In Quebec, we could create an alliance with farmers to recover food before it rots in the fields. An agri-food sector could mobilize for processing and distribution. »

While waiting for this revolution, Moisson Rive-Sud hopes to one day be able to offer free delivery to its member organizations. The purchase of electric vehicles is on the cards, starting with the smallest ones. To reduce its carbon footprint, the organization serving a dozen MRCs from Montérégie, up to Sorel-Tracy, wants to review its routes. Right now, 57% of organizations have delivery.