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Greater Vancouver Food Bank & ReFEED With David Long And Stuart Lilley

By July 7th, 2023No Comments29 min read
Home » Greater Vancouver Food Bank & ReFEED With David Long And Stuart Lilley

DSP 18 | Greater Vancouver Food Bank


Our food distribution system has been broken. It is time that we take action and fix it. In this episode, David Long, the CEO of Greater Vancouver Food Bank, and Stuart Lilley, the Founder of ReFeed, share their insights into fixing the broken food systems through the Zero-Loss Model to feed even future generations. The partnership of Greater Vancouver Food Bank and ReFeed has created a positive impact on mitigating food waste. They also share some unique challenges and the remarkable accomplishments they have achieved over the past years. Stay tuned to hear the story of a remarkable partnership making a meaningful impact on their community!

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Greater Vancouver Food Bank & ReFEED With David Long And Stuart Lilley

In this episode, we have a story of a great partnership between a social enterprise, ReFeed Farms, and a social profit organization, one of BC’s largest, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Our guests are David Long, the CEO of the Food Bank, and Stuart Lilley, the CEO of ReFeed Farms. In our conversation, they talk about what it takes to change a system, some unique challenges that they face, and the remarkable accomplishments they’ve had in the first two years of the operation of their partnerships.

A note as we got into our conversation, Stuart shared that they were able to divert 8,611 metric tons of food. What he was referring to was metric tons of CO2 that would otherwise have gone into the landfill. They’ve been able to redivert 4.5 million kilograms of food in 2021 alone. It is a story of a remarkable partnership that’s making a meaningful difference in our community. If you are involved in partnerships in your organizations, looking at partnerships, looking at social enterprises, you’re going to want to stay tuned for this excellent conversation with Stuart and David.

Welcome, David and Stuart.

Thanks very much, Doug. It’s great to be back again.

Thanks, Doug, for having me.

It is a real pleasure to have the two of you on. The focus of our show over 2021 is we’ve had a number of organizations and a number of leaders talking about the issue of food security. We’re ready to go deep with a couple of experts in this field. David, you’re one of the very few people who’ve been on our show before.

The last time you were here was in the spring of 2019. Not much has gone on since then. Long before we knew about the pandemic or anything that was coming our way, tell me a little bit and share with our audience a little bit about what’s been going on at the Food Bank, how you reacted to the pandemic, and what it’s looked like coming out of the pandemic.

I can’t believe that’s how long ago it is since I was on. I’m thinking back quickly now. There’s so much that’s happened and so much has changed. I would add for the better. I think the Food Bank is in a far better place. I run the Food Bank as a business. Like many businesses, we were forced to change how we ran things and our operations. I believe it made us better.

The biggest change of all, which is fitting in here, is the quality of the food that we’re now able to distribute to our clients. I joined the Food Bank in 2018 and did the podcast with you in 2019. We used to be about 20% perishable food, and we’re now up to 65%. A lot of that is thanks to ReFeed and Stuart, and the work that we’ve done over the last number of years working together. It’s exciting.

It is impressive. In an area where a lot of the media headlines are dealing with a lot of negativity, increased demand, and scarcity, it is a real pleasure to see the work that ReFeed and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank are doing, addressing that from a position of strength. Stuart, you’re doing some remarkable work through ReFeed Farms, which is a social enterprise. Tell us a little bit about the social enterprise and what you’re trying to accomplish.

We started ReFeed in 2020, right when COVID hit. We took over the facility in March 2020, which is not the greatest time to start a business, but we persevered. The whole concept behind ReFeed is to recover nutrients from the food that would otherwise be wasted, and ensure that it gets used to its highest value. By following that path, we ensure that food gets recovered for people first, and then gets used as livestock feed, and then as feedstock in the production of soil microbiology to regenerate the soil. It’s a completely circular system that is aligned with what we need to be doing in our society. We are a for-profit business that focuses on the community.

When you say it with the bullet points or the press release language there, it sounds very obvious but it’s not straightforward and I know it’s been quite a challenge to get it going. Share a little bit about the process of bringing that circular nature to reality.

Because there are so many pieces that have to come together, there’s a lot of nuance to it. I’ve got a background in waste management. I’ve experienced firsthand how much pre-consumer food was available out there that was either being completely wasted, going to landfill, or industrial composting. In my case, I disrupted the waste industry and was bringing it to feed insects to produce sustainable protein.

At that point, I realized that so much of that should have been going to people. To do that, you have to put a collection program in place. You have to get in the middle of the waste industry and engage with the food industry partners as well to ensure that you have an opportunity to recover this food. We bring it back to our facility on an industrial scale. We’re dealing with tonnage, truckloads, and trailer loads. It’s not a small operation.

DSP 18 | Greater Vancouver Food Bank

Greater Vancouver Food Bank: You have to get in the middle of the waste industry and engage with the food industry partners to ensure that you have an opportunity to recover this food.

That means that you have to have the infrastructure. That means you have to have the equipment. What made sense for us is to have everything come to a central location, and then use the byproduct that can’t go to people there at that facility. By having the facility that we do have, we’re able to divert millions of kilograms of the byproduct to dairy farms that are right across the street from us.

It’s creating efficiency. We’re recovering for people. We’re recovering for livestock., and then being able to produce the microbiology at the end, which is going to be our profit driver to produce products that replace synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and chemicals in our communities, as well as used on farms. That’s how we’re going to change how food is produced and create a higher nutritional food while keeping our eye on what we need to be doing for the environment.

That’s impressive. Turning back to you, David. I can see why the Greater Vancouver Food Bank would want to partner with ReFeed Farms, and there seems like a lot of alignment in terms of the purpose. How did the two of you meet?

Craig Edwards is my Director of Operations. Craig has been with the Food Bank for 22 years now. Craig and Stuart were friends. It was through me taking over at the Food Bank 4 or 5 years ago. Stuart and Craig were talking to each other. I got excited about the whole concept. That’s where Stuart and I met. The three of us are friends, and we’re business colleagues.

I want to stress in this show that this is a unique situation, and Stuart is a unique individual. Here you have one of the largest charities in BC, a not-for-profit, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, partnering with a for-profit business. The beauty of Stuart Lilley is that this guy genuinely wants to do the right thing. Back in the summer of 2021, I got 20 tons of green grapes from ReFeed that sure could have fed that to livestock. He could have composted it. He does the right thing where he has this amazing product that comes that is going to go to a landfill. Twenty tons of grapes, he could have done something else with it, but he wants to do the right thing. That’s the beauty of this.

That dovetails perfectly with Craig, myself, the Food Bank, and what we’re trying to achieve. I’ve known Stuart for nearly five years since I started with the Food Bank. For me to work with my board of directors and change the quality of the food we’re able to give people, it’s fascinating to see the growth of this. In 2021, ReFeed was probably the second-largest donor to us of fresh food. That’s 700,000 pounds of food. I say the same thing to people all the time. There’s no shortage of food. There’s a distribution problem.

There's no shortage of food. There's a distribution problem. Click To Tweet

There are challenges to doing the work that we do. I don’t come from the non-profit space. I only understand how to do something in a way that generates revenue and covers the cost. It’s the business model that I understand. That being said, this part of it is something that needs to be done. I happen to know how to do it and I know where the product is.

The collection program, the infrastructure, and the labor that need to be in place, all these pieces that need to be set up to be able to do it at this scale happen to be in my wheelhouse. I met Craig back in 2013 when I was with a company called Enterra Feed. That was the insect company where I was doing the work. Going into the food industry, identifying where all the food was, what the composition was, how we are going to stop the waste industry from controlling it, and have it go to feed insects instead of a feed.

This concept was something that Craig and I came to agree on having a central facility that was able to achieve all these different things in one place. It was the most efficient way of doing it. The food banking industry and the non-profit sector are very disjointed and inefficient. My vision of this was to be able to create this efficiency and have everything funnel through this central location.

That way, these other organizations within the food banking network could get the nutrition they need without having to do all the collection, all the sorting, and all the parts that are costing them a lot of money, and not necessarily getting the balanced nutrition they need. By having to go through central, you’re able to bring in a diverse stream of materials, and then redistribute it in a balanced way. That’s not how it’s set up.

How much of that ability for efficiency is tied to that central location?

We’ve got the logistics factors that play into that. We’ve got the waste side of it. We’re able to find 100% utility out of everything that we bring in. In 2021, we did 8,611 metric tons through this facility. Everything was utilized. That’s how efficient it can be.

That’s an important thing to get across. It’s zero waste. We can say the Greater Vancouver Food Bank has zero food waste. It’s because we’ve moved towards this model with Stuart and what he’s doing, but we’re also getting away from doing these public food drives. If people are going through a tough time, they can afford instant noodles that are high in sodium. They can afford the Kraft Dinner.

What they can’t afford is all the fresh products, cheese, milk, dairy, eggs, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables. We all know what the price of those things is nowadays. That’s what they can’t afford. The beauty of ReFeed and the partnership is Stuart is diverting that away from landfill, and giving a proportion of that to us at the Food Bank to distribute, which is better nutrition for people.

Anything that we get, even from other suppliers’ perishable items, we have these large blue totes in our fridges at Winston Street, our main office. We have a very simple rule. If you wouldn’t give it to your kids or your family, we’re not going to give it to our clients. If we have something that’s not of a certain quality, it goes to Stuart’s farm either for animal feed or ends up composting for the worms. It’s a very cool story from a zero-waste capacity as well.

A very simple rule is, if you wouldn't give it to your kids or your family, we're not going to give it to our clients. Click To Tweet

If we look at the region as well, Metro Vancouver, they’re looking to get better data on what’s out there. That traceability and that transparency have been challenging for them to get over the years because of the private industry not wanting to share it. A lot of it came from the waste industry not wanting to share that data.

We have data. We track every single thing that we bring in to get a true sense of what is being diverted, rejected, and recovered. Something that I wanted to have with this facility was to have tangibles. It’s not just the broker-directing things, but having a facility that would do the work, and be able to capture that impact. That’s what we’re proud of that we’ve been able to do. It’s essentially bootstrapped at this stage. We’ve proven out the model that this does work and it’s scalable anywhere in the world, and it’s especially scalable here. That’s what we’re looking forward to. It’s that next phase.

It is exciting to hear whenever we have a guest who talks about disrupting a sector or disrupting a part of either the social profit sector or social enterprise sector. I always try to imagine what it’s like from the other side of the table with the people who’ve been disrupted. You started ReFeed. I’m sure you had lots of conversations before you got going. You probably needed to source material or food coming in. How has that changed since you opened in 2020? Are people seeking you out now, or are you still needing to be out there waving the flag?

I’m a little bit unique in that. I was in the space previously through the management of feedstock for Enterra, as well as managing waste programs through my other company, Waste Collective. I’ve been intimately involved in this. When we started ReFeed, it was over three months that I decided to take this over.

Enterra was leaving. An opportunity came. One of my main client’s vendors went out of business, and I either had to start a collection program to divert their byproducts to livestock feed in order to make it cost-effective or I was going to lose them as a client. Out of necessity, I was like, “I guess I’m doing this.” I’ve been talking about doing it for years so it didn’t take much.

It took investment and it took trusting that this was the right path forward. The pieces that I didn’t quite understand, I’d be able to figure them out. With the feedstock, I knew I was able to turn it on right away. I was able to get the product coming through the door. C&C Supermarket is one of our main clients that was the trigger point for this to come to fruition. They’re the greenest grocery store in Canada, as far as I’m concerned. I would know because I’m intimately involved in their management of the program.

The feedstock was able to be turned on. We were managing programs for other food industry partners as well. We were able to start doing the recovery right away as well. We’re scaling it because of all the competition and because we went through COVID. When I say competition, I’m talking about other organizations that are getting into the upcycling movement. They may want a specific feedstock or type of produce, but they’ll take everything.

That takes it out of the stream of recoverability when those companies are doing it. You get this cycle all the time of companies coming in. They have great ideas but don’t quite understand the logistics and the handling of this type of material, but they’re going gangbusters trying to figure it out. Eventually, we’ll get those ones coming to us because they can’t handle the volumes. We can handle it.

When you’ve got a number of other food banks and not-for-profits out there that are doing the same thing. They’re going out there and they’re trying to get food because there’s a need. That is the next phase of this. We’re able to bring those together under an aligned system where they’re not necessarily having to be everything to everyone. They could focus on being the redistributor of food and becoming more efficient that way through a system that we’ve created.

That’s very powerful. David, I’m thinking as I’m listening to Stuart talk, the alignment with what he’s saying to your messaging, and you’ve shared it already in our discussion that the food distribution system is what’s broken. You’ve done such a good job over your time at the Food Bank and making people aware of the issue of distribution. It’s not as easy to give and look away. You make sure they learn something in the process. What does it mean for you in advancing your organization to be able to talk about zero-waste, this unique partnership, and what it means for the quality of food you’re able to provide to your clients?

This is the way food banks need to go. My goal and hope are to change how people think about food banks. When people think of food banks, they think of Kraft Dinner and bent cans of black beans. That’s not what we’re doing anymore. We’re a small part of the distribution because of the size of who we are, the size of our truck fleet, and the quantity of food.

We’re supplying Lake Country up in the Okanagan and their food bank. We’re supplying Abbotsford. We’re supplying Merritt Food Bank. I’ve had Nanaimo Loaves & Fishes come over. A lot of small food banks are run on what’s left over from the grocery stores. They get what’s left over. It’s not great. Probably 30% to 40% of it is waste. It’s got to be sorted. The food banks themselves have got to pay and have overhead to get rid of a lot of the food that’s not good.

It’s a much better system. This is the food that is pre-consumer. It hasn’t even gone to the grocery. It’s heading to a landfill because there’s such an abundance of food. I tell people, I get these numbers that Canada produces enough food to feed 52 million people. There are 38 million people in the country, but about 4 to 5 million people go to bed hungry every night. That’s all you need to say to tell them that there’s a broken food system.

DSP 18 | Greater Vancouver Food Bank

Greater Vancouver Food Bank: Canada produces enough food to feed 52 million people. There are 38 million people in the country, but about four to five million people go to bed hungry every night.

It’s part of the education of the public. Some stores are starting to do these great things with fruit and vegetables that don’t look perfect. Talking about ReFeed and Stuart, I remember one particular time when we got 13,000 or 14,000 pounds of avocados. The avocados are in the green netting. That’s probably 6 or 7 tons of avocados in green netting and these boxes.

I was running around the Food Bank going, “Tell me what’s wrong with these avocados.” Nobody could tell me what was wrong with them. I knew from Stuart, that they had been rejected because they were about half an inch or centimeter. The wrong is too small for the spec that they wanted to sell these avocados out, so they were heading to a landfill.

They were unbelievably perfect. They were green. They had time to ripe. As you and I would buy them and let them ripe on our side in the kitchen. There are 6 tons of avocados that we were able to hand a family, “Here’s a net of avocados. Go make some guacamole or go do something that’s healthy.” How exciting is this that I’m not handing you instant noodles that have got 65% sodium?

You can tell how excited I am about this because I want to change people’s perspectives on food banks. What they were doing 10 or 20 years ago is fantastic work, don’t get me wrong, but if we can get people proper nutrition and if we can get nutrition for kids for proper brain development to do better in schools, what a concept that is instead of dumping this food. Stuart probably knows the stats about the greenhouse gases that are given off from food rotting in landfills around the world. I believe it’s more than all the vehicles in the world put together or something ridiculous.

When you put the food industry into that agricultural system, it’s the third largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet. It’s definitely a significant contributor to it. What I wanted to mention on David’s point there was when you get 6, 10, 12, 14 or 20 tons of product at once, not everybody can handle that. It’s important to understand that it takes infrastructure to be able to do that.

That’s where the Greater Vancouver Food Bank is the perfect partner for this as well because they have a facility that they build, which is phenomenal. I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to get down there, but it’s awesome. It has the capacity to be able to handle that kind of volume for redistribution. We will bring it in here, make sure it’s good, send it to them, and they can redistribute it.

That alone creates efficiencies that are needed in this industry. It’s challenging to bring everybody together. As we move along here and cost-continuity increases in everything, we have to disrupt how things are done. We have to change how food banking has been done in the past, and how these not-for-profits work on their own. It has to change because it’s not sustainable.

I got to tell you, Doug. I love mandarin oranges, but I don’t want to get a phone call from Stuart in November or December time saying, “I got two shipping containers full of mandarin oranges.” We have a great story about mandarin oranges, but Craig and I dread some of these phone calls because of the volume of what is there.

We got a hold of a juicing company on Hasting Street in 2020 or 2021. They squeeze these mandarin oranges for us, and we were handing out the mandarin orange juice. Imagine if you and I would go to Choices and pay $10 for a little bottle of mandarin orange juice. We managed to save this from landfill. I forget, Stuart, how much it was. It was astronomical. There’s a seasonality to a year as well. We went through, “It’s the mandarin orange season.”

I’m still in it. I got another trailer today.

It’s seriously almost criminal. We want to get this story. Thank you so much for doing this episode. We want to tell people and make this awareness that there is a lot of food out there. We’re very fortunate that the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, with the size of our trucks and our fleet, can distribute this all over the place. We also have great partnerships with some trucking companies and some other big food companies. If they have space on a vehicle, they will help us move food around those provinces.

The important part of this is that this has to be done together. It can’t be siloed. It has to be connecting the dots and working together. When everybody contributes, the system will work. That’s what we’re trying to build. Whether it’d be vendor partners from the food industry. Whether it’d be transportation companies, facilities like ours, or juicing companies, solutions are all out there. It’s just a matter of bringing them all together. Many companies are trying to recreate the wheel. Dumb it down. It’s all there. Let’s bring it together. Let’s not try and recreate something that doesn’t need to be recreated. We need to all work together and bring these solutions into one place or at least into one conversation. That’s the key.

Let's not try and recreate something that doesn't need to be recreated. We need to all work together and bring these solutions into one place. Click To Tweet

 As this has been building and as you’re building this track record, I would assume that there are people from other parts of the world looking at what the two of you are doing through your respective organizations and wondering how they can recreate that in their own communities. As you’re still relatively new at this, I’m sure you don’t have an abundance of time for those conversations, but what are the types of questions people are asking you?

We had the honor of hosting the largest Food Bank in Mexico with the Walmart Foundation. They were in town visiting the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. They came over to ReFeed. We’re able to talk to them about our system. They were all looking for the same solutions. They have maybe one of the pieces in place. They’re looking to recover more food or deal with their waste products, or they’re dealing with a lack of revenue generation.

What we’re able to have conversations on is how we address each one of those problems in a holistic way. That’s what we’ve created. It’s modular and it can be duplicated. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, you have logistics, food waste, and ways of generating revenues. We’re able to bring those together for them. It was an interesting conversation that I didn’t expect this early. It’s safe to say that we get more interest from outside of Canada than we do in Canada for what we’re doing.

Why do you think that is?

That’s a loaded question. I don’t know.

It’s interesting though, Doug, because ReFeed can be replicated. We can do this everywhere. Right across Canada, there should be a ReFeed in the North of BC. There should be one in the Okanagan and everywhere. Some of my team and I went down to Houston, Texas, and we were visiting with them and started talking about the partnership we have with ReFeed.

Brian Greene is the CEO of the Houston Food Bank. I’m a big food bank. I distributed 8 million pounds of food in 2021. Houston Food Bank is doing 12 million pounds of food a month. Their food waste is costing them about $300,000 a year. Brian was fascinated by what we were trying to do up here. I put Brian in contact with Stuart because it should be replicated. This has got to be done. Let’s feed people.

The challenge that some people are conceptually trying to understand is that we have this social enterprise aspect but it’s not a charity. Right off the hop, it’s confusing in some ways. We do the work because it needs to get done and we know how to do it, but we can’t do anything for free. If they look at it from a food banking perspective, there’s infrastructure, staff and equipment. None of that is free either.

DSP 18 | Greater Vancouver Food Bank

Greater Vancouver Food Bank: We do the work because it needs to get done, and we know how to do it, but we can’t do anything for free.

Once you flip it around and realize that everything has to be supported through the capital, then it’s easier to look at what we’re doing as something that can be funded and supported in the community. We’re looking to produce products so that the community can support us through the purchase of products. We’re quantifying our impact through LCA modeling, which is Life Cycle Assessment modeling so that we can have community impact offsets that can be purchased.

That would help support the growth and acceleration of further facilities, impacting the community, and developing regenerative agricultural programs for farmers. All of those things are about accelerating the impact and scale of what we’re doing here. It’s through the community that can do that. We will provide something that they can invest in or purchase to be able to support a different model.

Both of your respective organizations may have a different legal structure or a different corporate structure, but both are very clearly purpose-driven organizations. That shared purpose comes through in our conversation. In thinking about the food system, there are some parallels to climate change. Solving the broken food system seems pretty daunting. It seems pretty far away and abstract as a concept. You both have done a good job of making it very tangible.

You’re talking about systems, corporations, food companies, and trucking companies. For individual members of our audience and leaders of social profit organizations here, what are some of the tangible ways that they can support this more sustainable food system? What should the people at home be taking away from this conversation around this issue?

We’ve set this up so that together we can make a difference. That does go back to our entire ethos about community impact first, feeding people, healing soil, and zero-waste. In our approach, we’re looking to provide service and value. That’s either for the food industry partners that we have, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, or some other smaller ones that we work with, to be able to provide them with nutritious food.

We charge for our service though, and it’s a nominal amount. We also produce products and we’ll be launching a line of regenerative input products in 2023 that the community will be able to buy and support our entire system. It’s them using their buying power to support a company that’s doing something that is impactful, that’s transparent, and that has co-benefits to it, whether it be food recovery, healing soil or educating our kids.

I’ve got three kids. We do school programs out here where we’re giving them tours. We’re learning about food recovery, making them food rescue rangers, getting in there, pulling out peppers, and telling me whether they’re good or not. Getting in there into the worms and feeling around what it’s like to have worms crawl through their fingers and why worms are important to help heal our soil. That to me is why I do it. I’m doing it for my kids. The regeneration, that’s how we refer to them, that they have a future. It starts with education and understanding why it’s important for these things to happen. Believe me, they get it more than the parents.

I believe that. David, I’m going to ask you a slightly different question. This model is very unique. It’s what a lot of board retreats imagine. What if we partnered with a social enterprise? What if we start our social enterprise? We’ve heard about the Acai Berry Juice of 2019. That was about the same era that everybody is going to start their own social enterprise. Many organizations have moved past that. You’ve got this partnership. What are you looking forward to?

I’m not going to be as polite as Stuart in some of his comments. What I’m looking forward to is when a lot of these large organizations put out these great statements of, “Our company is going to be zero-waste by 2030 or 2040.” I want to make sure it’s not done on the back of food banks, especially the food companies. They’re not dumping their food through whatever method onto some food banks.

I’ve seen this firsthand. I know what I’m talking about. There’s a food bank up in the Okanagan that gets the waste product from some grocery stores. It’s costing them. It’s added to their overhead, and they’re not sure that the value of what they’re getting is beneficial. There should be a better system and that’s what we’re trying to get across.

People need to start asking questions of these large chains about, “Where does your waste go that you have?” You have waste. Talking to politicians. I had Marie-Claude Bibeau visiting us in Vancouver. She said, “How do we help at the federal level?” I said, “Start taxing these waste-hauling companies that are just dumping food. There should be a penalty for dumping food. There should be something done.”

People need to start the conversation. My hope and goal are to start talking about it. That’s why a couple of friends of mine put together this eight-minute documentary that’s getting launched in December. If I can give it a big plug, it’s already won the Best Documentary Film from the Canadian Cinematography Awards. We put it into a number of film festivals as well. It’s also won not only the Best Documentary but Best Cinematography.

It’s taken us a year. It’s myself, Craig, Rich, Jay, and an amazing amount of people coming together, putting their time into this to try and tell this story in a simple way. I’m super excited about this being launched. In fact, we’re going to do a press conference and launch this eight-minute documentary and let people see it because there’s a solution.

You see these documentaries like, “We’re going to save the world. It’s doom and gloom.” I don’t know if you’ve seen it or not, but there’s the Kiss the Ground documentary that came out. Woody Harrelson narrated it. I saw this documentary. I phoned Stuart, Stuart’s phoning Craig, and Craig’s phoning me, “Have you seen this? This is unbelievable.”

I hope that this little mini-documentary has the same effect because it tells a story, and it took us a year to put it together. How do we tell this story? It started off as we wanted to do a two-minute, but realized that it was not going to happen. I hope in this day and age that people take 8 minutes and 40 seconds to watch something impactful.

My hope is people start talking. They start realizing and start questioning, “Why is there food waste? Why do we have hungry kids in schools?” There’s enough food waste out there working with Stuart, and we have all sorts of crazy dreams going forward too. Can you imagine if we dehydrated a lot of the fruit? That’s up in the Okanagan and gave that to all the daycares, and kids have healthy snacks instead of eating all this crap that they’re given. It is possible.

It’s that off-the-shelf type of solution that’s already out there. You don’t need to recreate the wheel. We happen to bring it into one facility where you have modular pieces. All it takes is the will to do it, the capital, and the support to be able to bring it to fruition. We don’t even engage with farmers yet. We haven’t even started on that part.

I had a great conversation with Tyler. He was telling me about the issues that he faces with the misshaped produce that he has, potatoes, carrots, and squashes. It pains me to know that all of that will go as livestock feed when all it takes is making it worth their while to recover it. That’s the issue.

It goes back to the farmers can’t do things for free, but if you make it so that it’s at least covering their cost of doing it, they don’t want to see their food go to waste. If you have a system that’s in place that is properly funded, there will be no waste. I try not to use the term food waste anymore unless it’s the scraps that are going into the compost bin. Anything that we deal with on a pre-consumer level, that’s food. It’s food until we tell you it’s not.

If you have a system that's in place that is properly funded, there will be no waste. Click To Tweet

I love it. I don’t know that we heard the name of the documentary that we jumped here. I know how long it is, but we don’t have the name of it.

It took us a long time to name it. We had lots of backwards and forwards. It’s called Rethinking Food.

Stuart and David, I want to thank you so much for the great work that you do. I appreciate the work you do. I admire the steps you’ve taken. I admire that we went through a whole conversation here dealing with an issue that a lot of people would scream scarcity and talk about the problems. We spent 40 minutes talking about some pretty impressive solutions, and that’s a credit to the great work that both of you do every day. Thank you for being on the Discovery Pod.

Thank you very much. That was awesome. We appreciate it.


Important Links

About David Long

DSP 18 | Greater Vancouver Food BankDavid has worked internationally in Switzerland, Great Britain and Australia before settling in Canada in 1996. As a classically trained Chef and a visionary CEO, David has successfully led many teams, with a bold career change from the kitchen to the CEO office in 2005.

David has held senior positions across various disciplines including Executive Chef, Chief Executive Officer, General Manager, and Vice President of Operations, before joining the Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) as Chief Operating Officer in 2018.

At the GVFB, the largest food bank in BC, David has successfully transformed the organization by building industry relationships, expanding capacity, increasing donations and improving efficiency. In 2021, he was elected as a Director to the Food Banks Canada Board of Directors. Always a passionate, entertaining and engaging leader, he builds high-performing teams and has a proven track record of bringing fun and inspiration to any organization.


About Stuart Lilley

DSP 18 | Greater Vancouver Food BankReFeed founder & CVO Stuart Lilley combined a lifelong passion for recycling and food with deep expertise in waste management and bioconversion to create Circular Nutrition™.

This zero-loss model repairs our broken food system by reclaiming industrial quantities of pre-consumer excess and unused food and using it to address food insecurity and regenerate soil damaged by conventional farming methods.

Fearless optimists Stuart Lilley and ReFeed are committed to being part of the change needed to create a food system that can feed future generations.