10 Questions with Salomé from MealCare, the McGill Chapter
MealCare is a Canadian organization that diverts edible surplus from becoming waste.
1. Thank you so much for sharing your story with our readers. Can you tell our audience a bit about yourself?
My name is Salomé. I’m a third-year Economics and Strategic Management undergrad at McGill and am currently the Co-President of MealCare McGill. Although I am not studying it, I have always been passionate about environmental awareness and climate mitigation, like many in my generation. So, when searching for clubs to join at McGill, I was immediately drawn to MealCare’s impactful mission and tangible change.
2. How did the idea of MealCare start?
MealCare was founded in 2016 by two McGill undergrads, Milton Calderon and Sanchit Gupta, after witnessing the cafeteria staff dispose of the day’s leftovers and encountering food-insecure individuals just a few steps away. Since MealCare’s first delivery in 2017, it has helped donate over 97,000 meals across its 12 university chapters.
3. How much food has McGill University diverted since becoming involved with MealCare? What is the environmental impact of your efforts?
Since 2017, MealCare McGill alone has diverted a total of 21,901 pounds of food, that is, 24,901 meals donated to the individuals most in need.
Over 2.3 million tonnes of edible food goes to waste in Canada, where 5.8 million people are food insecure. Without groups like MealCare, this food is sent to landfills, which are mass sources of toxic emissions such as methane, carbon dioxide, and water vapour, and result in the loss of millions of acres of natural habitat while millions remain malnourished.
4. Who are you currently collecting uneaten/unsold food from?
MealCare’s current on-campus donors include all cafeterias and most cafés, including Toi et Moi Café, Gerts Café and Bar, and the farmer’s market vegetable stand. Our current off-campus donors include Sophie Sucrée and Dispatch. We also collect leftover food from on-campus events sporadically.
If you are a part of or know of, any organizations or groups which host catered events, let us know! We have the capacity to organize deliveries even 2 hours before the scheduled pick-up. We have the capacity to organize deliveries even 2 hours before the scheduled pick-up.
5. How often do you collect food from businesses? And who do you give it away to?
We currently do one to two deliveries per week. Most of our food is collected and delivered on Fridays, which we donate to Old Brewery Mission, one of the biggest food and houseless shelters in Montreal. Some donors, however, require us to pick up leftovers on Wednesdays or Thursdays, in which case we walk the food from these locations to Open Door, a shelter on Parc Avenue. When we pick up leftovers from on-campus events, we also donate them to Open Door or Yellow Door, a shelter on Aylmer.
7. How does one get involved with MealCare? Either at McGill University or somewhere in Canada.
Anyone can get involved by volunteering with us! We have delivery and driver volunteers who help with our weekly deliveries and general volunteers who help at our events or when delivery volunteers are low.
We also host sustainability-based events every semester, from trivia nights, which raise awareness about food insecurity and wastage, to cooking workshops that teach students how to cook in an environmentally conscious way.
Visit our website to get in contact with your local chapter’s team!
8. What does the future hold for the McGill University Chapter of MealCare?
Our primary focus is expanding our reach since hundreds of thousands of tonnes of food still go to waste in Montreal every year, and MealCare is far from the only organization diverting it. Our Outreach team is dedicated to locating new restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores to partner with to further minimize waste and alleviate malnutrition. One way you can help MealCare without being involved is by reaching out to a local café/grocery store/restaurant and asking about how they manage their leftovers. If they then seem interested in our project, contact us about them, and we’ll reach out!
9. Are there anything interesting projects in the works that you’d like to share?
Another project MealCare is currently working on is a community food pantry or food donation box. With hikes in the prices of housing, groceries, and school, university students can sometimes find themselves unable to afford nutritious food. A community pantry would serve as a give-and-take space for students to donate food they won’t eat to students who may be experiencing insecurity. We are currently struggling to find an easily accessible space on campus, but if you or anyone you know may know of one, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
10. Do you have a final message you’d like to leave our readers with?
Be more aware of how much you waste! A study conducted by the National Zero Waste Council found that 63% of the food thrown away by Canadian households is edible. Be attentive when shopping and cooking, and if you have food that is about to go bad that you’re unable to eat, you can contact us, donate it to a shelter, or if you are located in Montreal, contact Reform and Resettle – another student-run club on campus that encourages students to cook, even small-sized, meals and donate them a food shelter.