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Surplus Food Rescue Program: Applicant guide

Applicant guide

The application intake period for the Surplus Food Rescue Program is now closed.

This guide will:

  1. Help you determine if you may be eligible for funding from Agriculture and Agri- Food Canada (AAFC) under the Surplus Food Rescue Program.
  2. Provide you with directions and explanations to assist you in completing an application for the program.

1.0 About the Surplus Food Rescue Program

The Surplus Food Rescue Program is part of the government of Canada’s emergency response to the current COVID-19 crisis. This is a time-limited program to help manage and redirect existing surpluses to organizations addressing food insecurity and to ensure that these surplus products are not wasted. Through this program, up to $50 million is available from AAFC for the purchase, processing, transportation and redistribution of surplus food. The program aims to rescue surplus commodities that would otherwise go to waste, to fairly compensate agricultural producers and agri-food harvesters and processors, and to ensure the food reaches vulnerable populations in Canada.

The objectives of the Surplus Food Rescue Program are to:

This program is designed to provide an opportunity for non-profit and for-profit organizations across the supply chain to bid on acquiring significant volumes of surplus products at the cost of production or less, processing them where necessary for longer shelf-life (that is frozen, dried or canned) and distributing to food serving agencies to reach the most vulnerable, remote and northern populations. This approach allows organizations to partner with other organizations along the value chain and propose methods for moving surplus commodities through the entire value chain as quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible.

Surplus food is determined by volume and value. Surplus needs to be due specifically to COVID-19, such as due to the closure of the restaurant and hotel industry.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the program to discuss the commodities intended to be acquired before submitting their application.

Surplus food may be fresh (such as produce), or in need of further processing due to its highly perishable nature (fish or meat). Justification must be made in the application for the volume or monetary value of food surplus proposed to be handled as well as justification for its need to be processed.

Notional allocations of available funding will be considered between categories of food surplus as follows:

Surplus food, once acquired and processed (if needed), must be donated to food serving agencies for distribution to food vulnerable populations; it cannot be resold and cannot generate any profits for processors or distributers, although the program may cover costs incurred across the value chain.

Priorities for funding

The program will award contributions to organizations who have a turn-key approach to managing surplus food and who:

Smaller organizations proposing to handle smaller amounts of surplus may be funded if they are serving a specific vulnerable region, not otherwise well-served, and use innovative methods to deal with the surplus.

1.1 Eligible applicants

Eligible applicants consist of not-for-profit and for-profit organizations and include:

Applicants must be a legal entity capable of entering into a legally-binding agreement.

1.2 Eligible projects

Eligible projects are those that handle the full logistical requirements needed to move surplus commodities through the entire value chain as quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible. This means covering the essential steps of acquiring product at wholesale cost, processing, transporting, as well as ensuring the shelf-life stability of surplus products, resulting in the least amount of food waste.

Projects can cover one or more commodities, depending on the demonstrated ability to manage all requirements for said commodities.

Regional or national approaches may be used.

No profits should be derived from the projects undertaken through this program and all benefits should return to the targeted community(ies).

1.3 Eligible costs

The following table demonstrates the eligible and ineligible costs under this program and any limitations or instructions you need to know to help you complete your budget.

Project costs
Eligible cost items Ineligible costs and limitations
  • Eligible products will be horticulture, meat, and fish and seafood.
  • surplus food items from producer, processors, wholesalers or distributors,
  • processing or packaging costs when necessary for food shelf-life
  • transportation costs within Canada, including trucking or air freight and
  • warehouse and storage rental costs, including refrigerated storage

Ineligible costs:

  • the purchase of land or buildings
  • normal operating costs of any organization
  • costs unrelated to the acquisition, processing or distribution of surplus food
  • surplus food at retail cost

Administrative costs: 

Administrative costs may be covered up to a rate of 10% of the total eligible costs of the project and may be cost-shared with the Recipient.

The administrative rate will cover the:

Note: Costs described in this section cannot be claimed separately under the program because they are covered by the administrative flat rate.

Costs may be retroactively covered to the date your application was received and deemed complete by the program. Incurring costs before a project decision and until an agreement is fully executed between AAFC and your organization is a risk as these costs may be deemed ineligible under the agreement.

1.4 Funding and cost sharing


Applicants under this program may be eligible to receive a maximum of $20 million unless the organization can make a case to move commodities in all categories. In all cases, successful applicants are required to enter into a legal agreement with AAFC. Recipients will receive a transfer payment subject to performance conditions specified in a funding agreement. This contribution is to be accounted for and is subject to audit.

Cost sharing

Eligible project costs will normally be shared between AAFC and the applicant as well as partners who strongly support the project. Priority will be given to projects that are highly supported by other financial contributors, have built partnerships with other sections of the food supply chain and/or demonstrate high impact and an ability to mobilize multiple resources.

Applicants are encouraged to reduce costs by absorbing some costs of acquisition and processing and using them as an industry’s contribution for cost-sharing the project.

For products where there is continuous surplus and for which there have already been donations made to food serving agencies, these past donations may be considered as symbolic contributions from the industry. However, these donations will not be reimbursed or considered as monetary contributions under a resulting contribution agreement. For donations to food serving agencies already made where no further surplus exists, these will not be eligible and will not be considered as a matching contribution from industry.

Other funding sources can be from the:

A cash contribution is an expense requiring a cash outlay, by either your organization or by a participant/contributor (such as a partner or other government), during the term of the project. A cash contribution made by another project participant should be reported as part of your sources of funding, and must be contributing to an eligible project cost.

In-kind contribution means the fair market value of goods contributed to the project, which required no outlay of cash (for example, use of previously-owned equipment, goods received as donation or goods provided as donations as stated above, etc.).

2.0 Expected results

The Surplus Food Rescue Program is expected to divert excess food from waste or disposal while addressing food insecurity of vulnerable populations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expected results are:

3.0 Assessment Criteria

The assessment of applications will take into consideration priorities established for the program, and will involve a comprehensive due diligence review involving market, technical, financial, and program experts.

Applicants must demonstrate an ability to cost-effectively handle the full logistical requirements of acquiring, processing, transporting and ensuring shelf-life stability of surplus products for distribution to vulnerable populations.

Assessment will take into consideration the following criteria:

As this program’s primary goal is to support efforts to access surplus foods to address food insecurity while assisting producers and processors to dispose of surpluses, projects that are able to move high volume of surplus commodities through the value chain as quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible will be considered as priority projects.

Recipients will also be responsible for observing and abiding by all applicable federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal government laws and regulations, including, but not limited to those related to: public health and safety; labour codes and standards; care and use of animals in research; wildlife habitat; environmental matters and environmental protection and in particular food (for example, Safe Food for Canadians Act, Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, Food and Drug Act, and Food and Drug Regulations

4.0 Reporting and basis of payment

An initial advance will be provided to the recipient and upon reporting, further funding will be released.

Recipients will be required to report on expenditures at each milestone:

Final report to provide results and performance including where donated food has been distributed will be required (target of 10% for northern communities).

The final performance report should include the following:

Schedule B: Performance measures
Performance measures * Brief description
Volume and value of excess food purchased. The recipient will be asked to report on the quantity and cost of excess food purchased, transformed and transported.
Degree to which the Recipient has provided surplus food during the COVID-19 crisis as a result of the project. The recipient will be asked to provide an assessment on a numeric scale of the level of change regarding its capacity to provide food during the COVID-19 crisis.
Degree to which food availability to vulnerable populations has increased during the COVID-19 crisis in communities / populations served as a result of the project.

The recipient will be asked to provide an assessment on a numeric scale of the level of change regarding the availability of food during the COVID-19 crisis in the vulnerable communities/populations served.

In cases where the recipient is not a food service organization, the Recipient will submit the assessments to be completed by the service organizations who acquire the excess food.

Percentage change in the amount of food distributed by program recipients.

The recipient will be asked to report on the quantities of food that it normally distributes, and the quantities of food distributed while the project is ongoing.

In cases where the recipient is not a food service organization, the Recipient will submit the reports to be completed by the service organizations who acquire the excess food.

Perceived decrease in the level of food insecurity in the communities/populations served by the Recipient as a result of the project.

Recipient's perception of how the project has helped decrease the level of food insecurity in the communities/populations where the surplus food has been redirected. The recipient will be asked to provide an assessment on a numeric scale to support this, in addition to qualitative information.

In cases where the recipient is not a food service organization, the recipient will submit the assessments to be completed by the service organizations who acquire the excess food.

* Performance measures are subject to changes at the discretion of the Minister.
Other reports may be required at AAFC’s discretion.

5.0 M-30 Act (for Quebec)

The Province of Quebec’s M-30 legislation may apply to Quebec-based applicants only. It is the Act Respecting the Ministère du Conseil exécutif (R.S.Q., c. M-30). More information is available online or by contacting the department from which you receive the majority of your funding.

M-30 applies to various types of Quebec organizations. For example, organizations located in Quebec and receiving more than half of their financing from the Government of Quebec may be subject to the Act. When inquiring as to whether or not your organization is subject to this Act, you will need to provide your most recent financial statements and letters of patent (if applicable).

All Quebec based organizations who are subject to the Act will have to obtain a ministerial order from the Secrétariat du Québec aux relations Canadiennes (SQRC) prior to entering into an agreement with AAFC.

6.0 How to apply

Applications will be accepted and treated first for products that require immediate attention due to their high perishability (potatoes, fresh fish, eggs, etc.).

All applications will be accepted until funds are fully committed or until July 31, 2020, whichever comes first. Extensions may be made if required to meet program objectives. Project activities must be completed by September 30, 2020.

PDF forms

If you have problems opening a PDF form in your Internet browser, you need to:

  • Use your computer. The forms may not open on mobile devices (iPads, tablets, mobile phones).
  • Make sure you have Adobe Reader 11 (or higher) already installed on your computer. If not, download Adobe Reader 11 or higher for free. Adobe has help for solving common issues.
  • You must save the file on your computer in a place you can remember.
  • Open the file on your computer using Adobe Reader 11 or higher.
  • If you can’t open the form with Adobe Reader 11 or higher, contact the program.
How to download and open a PDF form
  • Microsoft Windows Operating System computers using “Internet Explorer” or “Microsoft Edge” as your browser
    1. Right-click on the link you want to save
    2. Select “Save target as” or “Save link as”
    3. Choose the location on your computer where you would like to save the file
    4. Select “Save”
    5. Open Adobe Reader 11 or higher
    6. Select “File”
    7. Select “Open”
    8. Go to the location where you saved the file
    9. Select the PDF file
    10. Select “Open”
  • Microsoft Windows Operating System or Apple computers using “Chrome” or Firefox” as your browser
    1. Press the Control (ctrl) key and select the link you want to save
    2. When the option menu appears, choose “Download link to disk” or “Download linked file”.
    3. Choose the location on your computer where you would like to save the file. Your computer will start the download once you have selected a location.
    4. Use Spotlight or Finder to look for the downloaded file.

A complete application package consists of:

Note: Following project completion the recipient will need to complete a final performance report based on Schedule B: Performance measures.


It is the applicant’s responsibility to identify if information contained in an application is considered commercially confidential. This information will not be disclosed unless required by law, including the Access to Information Act, or upon express authorization of the applicant.

Submit your application by email at:

7.0 After submitting your application

Once an application has been submitted, an acknowledgment notice will be sent to you.

Note: Applicants should not consider an application as submitted to the program until an acknowledgement notice is received.

After an application has been received, AAFC verifies that all required forms and declarations have been completed and there is sufficient detail in the application for a full assessment. If any forms or information is missing, program officials will contact you. If all required documents are not received by the time the application deadline closes, the application will not be considered.

Once you submit an application, our goal is to:

Please note that even if a project meets all eligibility criteria, the submission of an application creates no obligation on the part of the Minister or of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada officials to provide funding for the proposed project. The Minister retains discretion to determine, based on other public policy and public interest considerations, whether an application that meets the criteria identified in this guide will ultimately receive funding.

8.0 Contact us

For more information on the Surplus Food Resuce Program, please contact us by:

Telephone: 1-866-367-8506
TDD/TTY: 613-773-2600

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Surplus Food Rescue Program
1341 Baseline Road
Tower 7, Floor 8, Room 223
Ottawa, ON K1A 0C5

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