Community

Reduce food waste, save money and have fun while you’re at it

Jennifer McLaughlin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Did you know households throw away an estimated $1,500 per year in wasted food? Or that 15 to 20 per cent of the food we throw into our green bins could be used?

Throughout November, the second annual Good Food Challenge: Family Edition invites York Region residents to discover and practice good food principles while having fun and spending time with their families.

The challenge is a collaborative effort between the York Region Food Network (YRFN) and York Region. It originated through a mutual desire to reduce food waste.

York Region’s Integrated Waste Management Master Plan (SM4RT Living Plan) outlines efforts to prioritize waste reduction and diversion as part of a sustainable waste management program with community partners like YRFN.

YRFN is a community organization that offers services and programs to support food security while educating and advocating for actions to reduce food insecurity.

In addition to helping the environment, food waste reduction saves money. This is particularly relevant today, with food costs rising drastically. Making simple changes to how you plan, shop, and store food can cut your grocery spending.

“I’m really excited about this year’s Good Food Challenge because, as a parent, I know how hard it is to deal with food for a growing family,” said Marissa Wiltshire, director of operations for YRFN.

“With the current cost of food, every penny saved is very helpful, and this challenge shares some tips and tools with that in mind,” she added.

As a result of last year’s challenge, participants implemented new tips and techniques to reduce food waste and save money. These include shopping with a list, growing and cooking at home, preparing meals from scratch, planning to use leftovers, and buying only what is needed.

This year’s challenge reinforces these same good food habits by encouraging a younger generation to participate through a no-cost, family-friendly bingo game. Though geared toward young families, all residents are welcome to participate.

With 25 bingo squares, participants can choose to complete as many activities as they would like. As a “go at your own pace” challenge, the activity is designed for busy families to spend quality time together and have fun without any pressure.

“This challenge was designed to make it easy to pick up good food habits and to spend fun time together, learning with family,” said Wiltshire.

Upon completing each bingo line, participants receive digital incentives like activity sheets and games geared at children aged four to 10.

In addition to receiving a bingo card and instructions, households registering for the Good Food Challenge are automatically entered into a weekly draw for grocery gift cards throughout the month.

York Region residents are encouraged to visit yrfn.ca to register. Register by Oct. 31 for a chance to win an early bird $50 grocery gift card.

Image supplied by the York Region Food Network.

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