“We have been outspoken advocates for food safety training, education, and oversight that both understand the capacity that exists in the non-profit sector and keeps people safe,” said Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest. “With growing opportunities to rescue surplus food, we are seeing gaps that may prevent food programs from providing good, healthy food to some of our most vulnerable populations. We are pleased the government is consulting to better understand the resources that exist in the sector to serve food, and the need to deliver training and oversight specifically designed to ensure Ontario’s most vulnerable can access the food they need for success.”
“Community meal programs and food banks play a vital role in meeting the immediate needs of our most vulnerable residents,” said Neil Hetherington, CEO of Daily Bread Food Bank. “We are pleased to be taking part in this consultation to ensure that these important programs can operate safely in our communities.”
Ontario is proposing changes to remove unnecessary barriers for food banks, not-for-profit organizations, and charities involved in food donation and community feeding to make it easier to help people in need.
Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, and Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, were at Our Lady of Lourdes School to announce that Ontario is proposing to allow organizations that serve low-risk foods, like fresh fruit and pre-packaged items, to operate without industrialized cleaning equipment meant for restaurants and a certified food-handler onsite. Currently, Ontario doesn’t distinguish between fast-food chain restaurants and the various not-for-profit soup kitchens, after school programs and new and innovative food rescue and delivery organizations which operate in schools, community centers, churches, mosques, temples, and synagogues.
“The province has many important regulations to support the health and safety of all Ontarians, which remains our key priority,” said Elliott. “However, some rules are unnecessarily burdensome on not-for-profit and charitable organizations that help support people and families in our communities with food insecurities. Our proposed changes are a direct response to the needs of these organizations. Food banks and charities should spend their time and resources helping those in need.”
The proposed changes will ensure these organizations are preparing food safely while exempting them from requiring:
- A set number of hand-washing stations;
- A two or three-compartment sink for cleaning utensils or a commercial mechanical dishwasher; and
- At least one food handler or supervisor on site.
The Ontario government is seeking public and sector feedback on the proposed regulation changes until November 27.
“Our government is making it easier for community organizations in Ontario to provide food to people in need,” said Smith. “By improving regulations that recognize when simple and prepackaged food products are safe to distribute, we are easing the burden on these organizations dedicated to helping our most vulnerable citizens operate.”
“All too often, regulations make things harder than they should be,” said Sarkaria. “As part of our work to reduce regulatory burdens through the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, we’re fixing regulations that have led to unintentional consequences — like getting in the way of food banks and religious charities that are committed to serving others and feeding the less fortunate among us.”
The proposed exemption is part of Ontario’s thoughtful and targeted approach to reducing regulatory burdens across several sectors, including farming, trucking, construction, health care, and restaurants. It will provide direct benefits to people in their everyday lives, while also making it easier to do business, create jobs and grow wages.