Canada is one of the world’s worst wasters of food. A recent study on food waste released by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation reported that the average Canadian wastes 170 kilograms of food each year. Working extensively in coffee houses, Paige Klarer saw first-hand the waste common in the industry. Klarer decided to do something about it. This summer she volunteered to run the food security program at All Nations Hope Network, a non-profit organization in Regina’s North Central neighbourhood that supports Indigenous people affected by HIV and hepatitis C. Three days a week, Klarer picked up day-old baked goods from cafes around Regina, packed them into large green containers and delivered them to the 25 to 50 people waiting in the All Nations Hope facility for food.
- Where did you get the idea to gather day-old food and distribute it to in-need families?
- Volunteering at All Nations Hope Network allowed me to see first-hand the lack of food security many people faced. Although we did our best, we often ran out of food to distribute and had to turn people away. I began to think of how I could solve this problem using resources already available. I decided to start with my workplace at Good Earth Coffee House. I then realized this had the potential to grow and I began reaching out to other businesses in Regina, which resulted in huge success.
- Some readers may have no sense of the scale of food insecurity that some people in a city such as Regina experience. Can you enlighten them?
- Many people don’t realize that food insecurity is very widespread in our communities. One in eight households are affected by food insecurity. This can be due to such things as financial instability, disabilities and addictions. It is not something that is limited to one specific demographic as there are elderly people, young adults and families who are affected.
- The University of Regina’s motto is “As One Who Serves.” What does that mean to you?
- It means that we have a duty as a student and a member of our community to give back in any way we can.
- What needs to change to ensure that people don’t have to rely on food banks and soup kitchens?
- There are many factors that contribute to food insecurity. Addictions and poverty are two social determinants of health that contribute greatly to the lack of food security. In order to address hunger, we must first begin to work on the root causes.
- You will soon earn your Bachelor of Health Studies degree. What is one of the most important lessons you have learned while a student?
- I learned many lessons, but being a student taught me that we truly never stop learning.
- Your summer fieldwork consisted of volunteering 560 hours over a 15-week period. Why is it important to consider volunteering?
- Volunteering allows us to give back to our community in a positive way. Not only are you helping others and making your community a better place to live in, it also gives you valuable hands-on experience.
- What drew you to health studies?
- I was searching for a pre-medicine program that would give me a well-rounded understanding of health. Health is not only physical – it is mental, spiritual and emotional. Health studies looks at all the factors that contribute to one’s over all well-being.
- What are your career aspirations?
- My hope is to attend medical school and eventually practice in rural communities in Saskatchewan.