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Don't throw out your pumpkins after Halloween!

United Way's Harvest Algoma will be collecting the pumpkins to process into usable pumpkin puree for food products
pumpkins (1)
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On Nov. 1, 2, and 3, United Way’s Harvest Algoma Food Resource Centre will be once again collecting pumpkins for a good cause. Pumpkins collected from the community will be either processed into usable pumpkin puree for food products or redirected to compost. In Canada, over 2500 farms grow pumpkins each year, producing around 80 thousand metric tonnes, and most of those are never eaten. 

Pumpkins were once considered a staple crop of early Europeans. Now, they decorate our porches and end up in our landfills. United Way’s Harvest Algoma Food Resource Centre is working toward changing the way we view our food and food waste.

“Pumpkins of all varieties are perfectly edible,” says Jessica Laidley, Food Resource Centre Manager, “but the texture can be different. That includes the Jack-o-lantern you carve up and place at your doorstep. You’re decorating with a nutritious, vitamin-rich fruit that can absolutely have a different end of life than the landfill.” 

Last year, over 7000lbs of pumpkins were collected across the community which were then sorted for quality by a group of dedicated volunteers. Whatever was salvageable was taken to the Food Resource Centre commercial kitchen where the pumpkins were seeded, carved, roasted, and stored in the freezer and became countless muffins, cookies, breads, soups, and chili. “Its amazing how many places you can hide pumpkin for a nutritional or moisture boost in a baked good or veggie chili,” says Laidley. “This year, we’re going to experiment with pressure canning and dehydrating to see how creative we can be.” 

This year, the Great Pumpkin Rescue will place a GFL bin located at Cambrian Mall on Great Northern Road on Nov. 1, 2, and 3. The bin will be clearly marked. The community is invited to bring their pumpkins and deposit them at this location. 

“The pumpkin rescue illustrates how easily food waste happens,” noted Mike Delfre, Harvest Algoma’s Director of Operations. “Most people would simply throw their Halloween pumpkins into the garbage after they have served their purpose as a decoration. But they are a very nutritious food product and there are lots of hungry people in Sault Ste Marie. Food waste reduction is one of Harvest Algoma’s missions and the Great Pumpkin Rescue is one of the ways we achieve that goal.”

The Great Pumpkin Rescue could not be possible without the help of dedicated volunteers. If you would like to help, contact 705-253-0273 x203 for more information.