How some organizations are reducing food waste and saving Canadians money

People across Canada struggle to buy groceries, but an estimated 2.3 million tons of edible food is wasted each year.

National Zero Waste Council, an organization focused on sustainable waste practices, says that 63 percent of the food Canadians have thrown away so far this year could have been eaten. Wasteful food practices also cost Canadians more than $20 billion a year, according to the council.

At a time when food is more expensive than ever due to inflation, some organizations are trying to address this problem by helping businesses with surplus food reduce waste while helping consumers save. money.

Here’s a look at how this is being accomplished.


Too Good To Go, a global organization that launched across Canada in 2021, acts as a link between consumers and businesses.

Country manager Sam Kashani says the company has an app that connects people with local restaurants, hotels and shops.

“There are so many businesses across the country that have surplus food and they may not have a pathway for the food to get to a donation center through logistics, or the sum is so small that ultimately they just Has no sense. drive a truck there and pick it up,” he told

When a consumer opens the app, they are greeted by a map showing a variety of businesses in their area with “grab bags.”

These are packages that companies put together with excess inventory. A variety of food, depending on the business, is inside. Kashani says that all the surprise bags sell for a third of the appraised cost.

“You get a collection of surplus food at a deep discount, and for that reason, the business wins, because they collect their food and get some incremental income instead of throwing it away,” Kashani said. “The consumer wins because he gets perfectly healthy, delicious food at a fraction of the cost he would normally have paid for it.”

Shira McDermott, co-founder of a Vancouver flour mill and bakery called Flourist, says Too Good To Go has been a draw for new customers.

“It’s a good way for people to discover our products and get some deals,” he told

Flourist will be packing additional baked goods in their surprise bags. McDermott says the products retail for about $23 (customer pays about $7) and can be shared by a family of four.

“Usually it’s a selection of cookies, cakes and maybe some bread,” she said. “It’s a really good opportunity to try the previous day’s baking.”

Second Harvest is Canada’s largest salvaged food organization, working with businesses and logistics operators to bring surplus food to Canadians.

“We do third-party logistics across the country,” Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest, told “But on top of that, we look at what systemic challenges are even allowing this to happen in the first place. Why do we have so much food loss and waste? And how much do we have?

Second Harvest began in 1985 with two Toronto women who wanted to make a difference in their community. About seven years ago, the company began investing in research as it expanded across Canada and focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The goal is simple: bring food that would otherwise go to waste to communities and organizations that can use it.

Food banks are staples when it comes to accessing food, but Nikkel says there is another network of organizations hidden from public view that can also benefit from recovered food.

These are the organizations that Second Harvest focuses on.

“There are 61,000 places that provide food to individuals and nonprofit organizations across the country,” he said, adding that they join the network of 4,500 food banks. “They’re small, grassroots or medium, but they just get overlooked.”

Nikkel explains that these organizations include senior centers, shelters, recreational facilities, school nutrition programs, and religious institutions.

“Her main focus is not food, but food is what brings people together. It will attract more people because there is food, (so) get them healthy food,” she said.


Through organizations like Second Harvest and Too Good To Go, less food is wasted. But there are some foods that cannot be fed to humans: think crushed produce, stale bread, and corn husks.

That’s where companies like Loop come in.

“Loop exists as a third party to make sure food gets somewhere good,” Jaime White, director of new projects for Loop, told

White works with companies like Second Harvest to continue the cycle of reclaimed food. If a company has surplus produce, Second Harvest will take edible food and deliver it to charity. Loop will take any leftover food and find farms to take it from.

The company started when a small group of farmers in Dawson Creek, BC wanted to get low-priced feed for their livestock and reduce environmental impacts. They asked a local grocery store if the company would donate leftover produce that wasn’t selling.

White says the store couldn’t because of “liability” issues it could face if something went wrong. That’s when Loop came to life, addressing what the local store needed and what the farmers wanted.

How some organizations are reducing food waste and saving Canadians moneyWilbur, Larry, and Nancy are the three pigs that benefit from the most pumpkins, and the benefits are not insignificant. (Carla Shynkaruk/CTV Saskatoon)

Wilbur, Larry, and Nancy are the three pigs that benefit from the most pumpkins, and the benefits are not insignificant. (Carla Shynkaruk/CTV Saskatoon)

Since then, Loop has grown across the country and is partnering businesses with farms to eliminate food waste.

White says the company’s costs are cheaper than garbage collection and its services mean less food is wasted. It acts as an intermediary organization, directing where food should go and educating farmers about what they can feed to animals.

White believes food should feed people first and animals second, and says she’s seen the impact Loop can have when it comes to human leftovers.

“You’ve never seen a happier pig than a pig in pumpkin pie,” White said. “Everything has a home on the farm somewhere.”


The amount of waste produced daily by Canadians is staggering, and most of it is discarded fruits and vegetables. Food waste is any byproduct of an edible source, such as banana peels, rotten or moldy foods, and stale baked goods. National Zero Waste Council estimates that every day Canadians throw away 130,000 lettuces, 2.6 million potatoes, 650,000 loaves of bread and 1 million cups of milk.

According to TESTAccording to a 2021 University of Toronto report on food insecurity in Canada, 15.9% of households across the country experienced some level of food insecurity at some point in the previous 12 months.

“This high rate of household food insecurity has persisted for the past three years, with little change from 2019 to 2021,” the report says. “Despite systematic monitoring of food insecurity since 2005, this problem has not improved.”

In response to supply chain disruptions from the pandemic and the growing number of hungry people, the Canadian government launched the Surplus Food Rescue Program. It awarded $50 million in one-time funding to various food recovery organizations like Second Harvest, which received $11 million from the initiative. Nikkel says the program was impactful and helped growers, communities, and environmental initiatives.

“There are currently no plans to continue the Surplus Food Rescue Program,” a spokesperson for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada said. “Under the Surplus Food Rescue Program, more than 1 million dozen eggs and more than 7 million kilograms of surplus food due to COVID-19 disruptions were redistributed to food banks and community food organizations.”

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