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Okanagan College waste-saving food project heads to nationals

Students behind the Unusually Good Food Co. are in the Enactus Finals
Okanagan College students from Vernon, Salmon Arm, Kelowna and Penticton launched the Unusually Good Food Co. and are heading to Toronto to compete in the Enactus Canada National Exposition finals Sept. 30, 2022. (OC photo)

Students at Okanagan College (OC) campuses in Vernon, Salmon Arm, Penticton and Kelowna are heading to Toronto for the finals of a major competition.

The students took part in the college’s Enactus program by bringing to life the Unusually Good Food Co., which turns “unusual” apples — ones that would normally be unfit for sale due to aesthetic deficiencies— into nutritious apple chips to be given to local schools, food banks and developing countries.

This year alone, Unusually Good Food Co. has donated 38,000 servings of apple chips, saving more than 35,000 pounds of apples from going to waste and diverting 70 tonnes of C02.

The students behind Unusually Good take those same “unusual” apples and create apple juice. Sales of the apple juice have allowed the students to pay farmers for the apples they use, reduce food insecurity and fight climate change, while also generating more than $15,000 in revenue.

Showcasing their project in Toronto at the Enactus Canada National Exposition on Sept. 30, the students will compete against four other schools from across the country for the title of Enactus Canada National Champion and the opportunity to represent Canada at the Enactus World Cup in Puerto Rico this October.

MacKenna Lenarcic, Enactus president at OC, said it feels “absolutely amazing” to see the students reach the final five schools in the country after years of hard work on the project.

“I have watched our team work so hard over the past three years that I’ve been with Enactus to grow this project to where it currently is,” she said, adding this is the closest OC has ever been to a national Enactus championship.

The team works in partnership with the North Okanagan Valley Gleaners to make the apple chips, and through the Gleaners, they’ve supplied apple chips to places as far as Ukraine, Guatemala, North Korea and Armenia, as well as closer to home at local breakfast and lunch school programs.

The students also moved the project closer to zero-waste by partnering with the Kelowna Candle Factory to turn apple byproduct into apple candles. They started with a pilot test run of 100 candles, which sold out in just a couple months and generated more than $1,500 in revenue.

The project also expanded by running educational programming in local elementary schools, teaching kids in Grade 5 about food waste in the community and social entrepreneurship.

Enactus is a worldwide, student-led organization that implements social, economic and environmental projects within local communities. It operates in 33 countries, more than 1,730 post-secondary programs and impacts the lives of more than 1.3 million people each year.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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