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Sudbury, Ont., woman creates group to reduce food waste and feed the hungry

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Like most people, Shannon Corrigan says she wastes more food than she would like and it's something she's trying to change.

“I used to clean out my fridge and my cupboards and my freezer all the time and I would post it on the (Facebook) marketplace: free food, come and get it,” Corrigan said.

“So I’m like, why not just start a group and hopefully get a bunch of other people doing the exact same thing?”

That’s when Needing Leftovers-Sudbury was created. In two months, the group has grown to more than 1,000 members.

“Somebody asks for coffee or I need dinner for my kids or something like that, people can respond on the post, ‘OK well I just made spaghetti and I have lots left” she said.

“If they don’t have a ride or they can’t get it, I can go pick it up, bring it to the people. Or the people who is offering the food they’ve also been dropping it off to people, as well.”

Corrigan said it’s a win-win for everyone because food isn’t wasted and people in the community don’t go hungry.

“Very thankful -- their kids are very thankful,” she said.

“They definitely have big smiles. I got a hug from a little girl once so that was pretty good. I’ve definitely had tears for all of the donations I’ve gotten.”

Officials at Public Health Sudbury and Districts said interest in donating surplus food has grown in the last few years in the community.

“Wherever possible we would recommend that individuals consider donating their surplus of food to existing food rescue programs like food banks or other community kitchens,” said the health unit’s Ashley DeRocchis.

“But we do understand there are situations where they may prefer to donate directly to an individual or a neighbour they know to be in need and where that’s the case it’s really important to keep in mind some food safety measures.”

She adds that those donating food should ensure they follow these steps to reduce the risk of food-borne illness: make sure everything is clean; separate food items; make sure everything is cooked to the proper temperature; and, refrigerate items promptly.

For those looking to donate, DeRocchis said they should consider fresh fruits and vegetables rather than prepared meals.

For those receiving food, they should check expiry dates before eating anything. 

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