Over 135,000 individuals across Montreal turning to community organizations for support in meeting their food needs each month.
It would be natural to think that the concept of “send anything we have and hope for the best” would be the appropriate way to meet those needs. After all, getting some food, even if there is a risk it might not be safe, is better than no food at all, right?
Well, at Moisson Montreal, the belief that safe food is a part of the business model is not taken lightly – it is a priority. That is why since April 2017, a small team of trained specialists have been operating a food safety lab, on site, to ensure that the food that is sent out to the community does not carry with it an added element of risk to their beneficiaries.
“We run about 25 – 30 tests each month on a wide range of our products, says Djamal Ait Mouhoub, who leads the Lab at Moisson Montreal. Most importantly, with the addition of beef and chicken to our procurement and delivery options, we must ensure that these products are free of any bacteria that could make someone sick.”
But having a Lab on site is one thing, making sure you are doing things right is another. And that is why Moisson Montreal invited Dr. Larry Goodridge, director of the Food Safety and Quality Program and the Ian and Jayne Munro Chair in Food Safety at McGill University to visit the Lab earlier this summer.
“It was interesting to get this invitation, because most not-for-profits that are working directly with food do not typically have this kind of space on-site, says Dr. Goodridge. For Moisson Montreal to be doing this work at the point where they have the greatest control is a testament to their commitment to delivering safe food.”
Indeed, Dr. Goodridge says that while there are, of course, areas that could further enhance the process, the Lab is one that would meet if not surpass others he has seen in for-profit organizations.
“All the elements are here. It would be great to see the addition of a hood, and an additional incubator would allow for even more testing, but it is great to see Moisson Montreal doing this type of work, and I think it is important that more organizations follow their lead.”
In fact, Moisson Montreal is seeking out the necessary funding to further enhance their lab. “Currently, we are hoping to not only add the hood and incubator that Dr. Goodridge spoke of, but an autoclave, as well”, says André Bossé, director of operations at Moisson Montreal. “Of course, these things require funding and so we are working with our philanthropic development team to find the partners who can help us realize this next phase of the project.
Richard Daneau, executive director at Moisson Montreal, adds, “With an objective of becoming the best food bank in Canada, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are a leader and providing a model for others to follow. We work with organizations across the island of Montreal and throughout the province, with more than 40,000 children receiving help from Moisson Montreal through our accredited organizations. As a primary source of food for our 241 partners, we want to be sure that the food we provide them is not only healthy, but that it means the safety standards of industry.”
The time where food banks just send out food, regardless of the quality, is behind us. Welcome to the future, where food safety and food security go hand-in-hand.
To learn more about the food safety lab and how you or your organization can help to support Moisson Montreal, please contact Paul Simard, Director of Philanthropic Development and Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org
This content has been paid by Moisson Montréal.