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Food rescue fail: how these boxes of food landed in a school dumpster

Last Updated May 26, 2020 at 6:14 pm EDT

Packaged food seen inside a dumpster outside Swansea Public School on May 26, 2020. (David Misener/CityNews Toronto)

A man says he saw two workers in Toronto District School Board-shirts throwing out large quantities of fresh and boxed food at a west Toronto public school.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he saw this happen at Swansea Public School, which is located south of Bloor Street West and west of High Park.

CityNews reached out to the school’s principal and he confirmed the school had thrown-out large quantities of expired and rotten food.

Principal Kevin Battaglia said he made a mistake amidst the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he missed an email from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to donate any leftover fresh food to local non-profit, Second Harvest.

The TDSB said in a statement that when the schools were closed, “schools were also encouraged to donate non-perishables to Second Harvest or their local food bank. Many schools did this but it was not done at Swansea as Battaglia inadvertently did not see the email.”

Schools have been shuttered for over two months now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In-school classes have been cancelled for the remainder of the school year.

As an apology to the community, Battaglia made a personal donation to Second Harvest on Tuesday.

The board said they made every effort to remove food after the March break.

“Unfortunately, some food went bad or expired at a number of schools in the initial weeks of the closure in March and April,” they said.

The expired food has been thrown out and staff at the school are in the process of arranging to donate the remaining non-perishables, the board added.

Second Harvest CEO Lori Nikkel says the organization has “a longstanding reciprocal relationship with the TDSB.”

“When school was in session many student nutrition programs accessed surplus healthy food through Food Rescue, when the schools closed schools they used the Food Rescue platform to donate their surplus food to local charities in need,” she said. “In addition, the Second Harvest fleet continues to pick up and redistributed large scale donations from schools right across the city, and although it’s always unfortunate to see good food going into landfills, this was atypical of the school board.”

Nikkel said she is grateful for the financial donation from Kevin Battaglia.