The executive director of Feed Nova Scotia says food banks need to strategically go after food waste or what he calls "a very big prize."
"If we got one-tenth of that we would double the impact of what we are doing right now," Nick Jennery said.
He argued food banks must do more to prevent retailers from throwing out good food.
A recent CBC Marketplace investigation found stores in Canada waste an estimated $3 billion of food annually. It found dumpsters full of seemingly edible food at Walmart stores across the country.
Jennery said Feed Nova Scotia is trying to figure out the logistics of how it can get more of that food to the hungry.
It's why the organization recently leased several new refrigerator trucks that are now crossing the province. They stop at major grocery retailers to pick up perishables and other foods.
Food banks should learn more in order to tap into big retailers as a supply chain, Jennery said.
"What are their store practices when they pull product off the shelf? What types of products? How much product is available?" he said.
"We've got five trucks. I'm more than willing to reconstruct that if we can pick up the food in a more timely way — if I know there's more food to pick up — so we're having those conversations right now."
Trying to be flexible
In other words, Jennery wants to make it easy for retailers, who are in the business of selling food, not feeding the hungry, to get rid of what they deem to be food waste.
"The more flexible we can be I think the more they might donate," Feed Nova Scotia truck driver Jimmy Nickerson said. "There's a potential to get even more, definitely."
Once a week, Feed Nova Scotia goes to Costco, Sobeys, Walmart and Superstore stores across the province to pick up donations of regular groceries — anything destined for the dumpster could still be eaten.
Jane Threlfall, manager of Walmart in Truro, N.S., said having a refrigerator truck pull up to their door at a regular time makes it a lot easier for the store to make a donation.
"For us it means we are able to give them perishable goods, such as meat, cheeses, yogurt," she said.
"Things like cold products that would at one point retailers may have to destroy, we are able to hang on to those and give it to them, as well."