You bought it for an emergency.

This is it.

Emergency Food Rescue Explained

With a 35% increase in visits to Canadian food banks between 2019 and 2022, it’s no wonder that some food banks are struggling to keep up. There is a limit to how far a dollar can be stretched, and between the pandemic, increased costs of living, and low social assistance rates, it’s no wonder many Canadians are turning to food banks to bridge the gap. In contrast, we at Total Prepare see many companies, government organizations, and individuals send thousands of expired emergency meals to the landfill for disposal every year.

That does not add up.

We would like to encourage all organizations with emergency food stores to donate any soon-to-expire food while it can still help others. It needs replacing anyway, why not use it to be a hero in your community? You keep food out of the landfill, and put it in the hands of people who need it NOW.

Below, we’ll go into detail about how to find your expiry dates, how to tell if food is still good to eat, and we even have a registration program, so you can be notified when its time to give!

Food Bank Stats

Food Bank Statistics and quotes for the Emergency Food Rescue Program

The Benefits of Donating Emergency Food

Feed your community. It’s just the right thing to do.

Keep useful food from the landfill.

Reduce or eliminate disposal costs.

Large donations are often eligible for charitable tax receipts.

How Can You Help Now?

Supplies still fresh but you want to help? Register your expiry details on this page and we’ll reach out to remind you when your items are nearing expiry. We also provide special replenishment rates for organizations that have donated their old supplies, and we can help to connect you to food banks in your area if you’re not sure where to start.

Run an office or community food drive to gather non-perishables to donate right away, or support other local businesses by purchasing food to donate immediately. Your food banks will appreciate every box, bar, and can!

How to Tell When Your Food Expires

Most emergency foods will list either a manufacture date and/or an expiration date right on the packaging. If you’re having any difficulty assessing the age of your emergency stores, check out this video, or contact our team – we’re always happy to help!

Here are some examples of the most popular forms of emergency food, and what kinds of shelf lives and information you can expect from them:

Calorie Ration Bars – Regardless of brand, 5 years is a standard shelf life on most emergency bars. They tend to be temperature resistant and can store anywhere.

MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) – It is recommended that MRE’s be stored in a cool, dry environment. The standard MRE shelf-life is 5 years, assuming it is stored at 55°F (13°C). Our TPMRE and XMRE are guaranteed to have a minimum of 3 years shelf life when stored at temperatures up to 27°C and 5 years at the aforementioned 13°C.

Freeze Dried Food – The shelf life of freeze dried foods can vary, but most pre-made meals like those provided by Readywise and Legacy will last 25 years. It is best to store them in a cool place.

Cook-in-Pouch Food – Meals that can be cooked by adding boiling water to the bag are common for campers, but also make great emergency food. Shelf lives vary from 1-10 years though, so check your packaging carefully.

Is My Food Still Good To Eat?

If you’re not sure how your food was stored, or if you are concerned about the integrity of your meals, there are a few ways you can spot food that is past its best.

Check the packaging – If the wrapping/package is bloating or looks at all inflated, it’s not good to eat.

Sniff test – The age old methodology of college students everywhere stands the test of time. Open up a pack, and have a sniff. If it doesn’t smell good, it probably isn’t.

Consult the pros – Food banks go through their donations before giving them away. They are experts at spotting food that shouldn’t be eaten and stopping rancid food from making it to hungry mouths. Give your local food bank a call if you’re unsure and let them make the final call.

Want a resource to download, print, and share with your team on how to spot expired emergency food? You can download a pdf handout here.