New research from Western University has found the average London household throws out food daily, and it adds up to about $600 a year.

A survey of 1,300 London homes found residents threw away food, on average, nearly five times a week – the equivalent of nearly six meals.

According to the survey, respondents most often said they bought or prepared more than they could eat before it spoiled.

The study’s lead author is researcher Paul van der Werf, who is an environmental consultant and a project advisor with Western’s Human Environments Analysis Laboratory (HEAL Lab).

He said in a statement, “London is a mid-sized city with an ‘average’ population. Whether it’s Hamilton, Saskatoon, Vancouver or somewhere else – I think you’d find similar results across the country.”

He added that while communities with green bin programs that compost food scraps are doing somewhat better since it’s staying out of the landfill, it’s still food that someone could have eaten.

As for what might compel people to buy less and waste less, van der Werf said it comes down to dollar signs.

“When people hear ‘Canadians waste $31 billion per year in food,’ they can’t relate. They’re not billionaires. But when I say to them, on average, households throw out $600 per year, that’s a lot of motivation.”

Easy changes like better managing food supply, storage and preparation could improve the situation.

Spring food drive kicks off

The survey results com as the London Food Bank’s 32nd annual Spring Food Drive gets underway.

Beginning Thursday bags will be available at grocery stores. Londoners are encouraged to fill them up with non-perishable food items and drop them off at any city fire station, or their local grocery store.

Last year the spring drive netted 67,747 pounds of food.

Right now the food bank helps feed an average of 3,255 families every month.

Jane Roy, food bank co-director, says senior citizens are increasingly in need of their help, but many are either immobile or feel uncomfortable coming to the food bank.

That’s why they’ve partnered with Meals on Wheels this year in helping deliver food directly to seniors.