How Second Harvest is Bridging the Gap Between Waste and Want

Photo © Courtesy of Second Harvest

Food belongs on plates, not in landfills—especially not when over 6.9 million Canadians are grappling with food insecurity. And yet, a whopping 58 per cent of all food produced for Canada goes to waste every year. Imagine it this way: if you loaded Canada’s food waste each year into train cars, it would fill over 90,000 standard freight train cars. Lined up end to end, this train would stretch for about 1,200 kilometres, roughly the distance from Vancouver to Medicine Hat.

Wasting good food is a dual issue: It pushes nutrition further out of reach for millions of people and creates harmful greenhouse gases when it rots in landfills. The problem is the gap between surplus and scarcity, and Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization, is committed to closing that gap.

Rescuing Food, Nourishing Communities

Second Harvest has a vision of a Canada with No Waste and No Hunger. With a robust network spanning the entire supply chain, from farm to fork, the organization collaborates with thousands of food businesses to redirect surplus food to those in need.

The impact is life-changing: Second Harvest rescued and redistributed a staggering 74.4 million pounds of food to over 4,400 non-profits and charities across Canada in the last year alone.

To make good news even better, a significant portion of this rescued food—64 per cent—boasts high nutritional value, crucial for combating food insecurity. Second Harvest ensures that no edible morsel goes to waste, from fresh produce to meat, dairy, and everything in between. On average, this translates to a staggering 205,000 meals provided to Canadians daily, changing the lives of food-insecure families and taking communities one step closer to eradicating hunger.

In addition, by keeping perfectly edible food from ending up in landfills and redirecting it to the charitable sector, Second Harvest prevents harmful greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere—it’s a winning solution for the environment and the millions of Canadians experiencing food insecurity.

© Courtesy of Second Harvest

Beyond The Plate

Second Harvest doesn’t stop at redirecting healthy surplus food to those in need—they’re taking their work further to fight the root causes of hunger and food waste in Canada.

Through groundbreaking research, education, and advocacy, the organization spearheads initiatives to tackle the core of food waste and insecurity. Their flagship initiative, the Second Harvest Food Rescue App, revolutionizes the donation process, facilitating direct contributions from businesses to local non-profits. Meanwhile, research pieces like “Hungry for Change” unveil how rising food costs and the growing need for support impact our communities—and what we can do to stop it.

Access in Action

Based in Surrey, B.C., Cloverdale Community Kitchen strives to build a safe and caring community where everyone feels they belong. The small team of 12, supported by an incredible group of volunteers, runs several programs, including a food bank accessed by about 5,000 individuals weekly. Many more are on a growing waitlist.

Cloverdale Community Kitchen also prepares over a thousand meals in their kitchen every week for their community meals and Mobile Meals program, which delivers hot meals to seniors four nights a week.

“The impact of the food donated through Second Harvest and their other partners is life-changing,” Executive Director Marty Jones said. “Fresh fruit, vegetables, proteins, and dairy are handed out daily to individuals and families. It goes a long way in making our community members know they belong and matter to us.”

Stories like this exist nationwide, with Second Harvest working behind the scenes to bring good food to those in need. When we keep food out of landfills, we bridge the gap between waste and want, building a future where no plate remains empty and no community goes hungry.

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