Second Harvest Canada Interview

When Nature’s Bodega began, one of our first goals was to give back. As a team, we decided to choose a charity or organization to donate to that aligned with our values every few months throughout the year.

Our first choice for this year:

Second Harvest Canada

As our donation period comes to a close, it is incredible to learn that between January 1st – May 1st, with our customers support, we were able to donate $500.00, which allowed Second Harvest Canada to:

  • Provide 1000 meals to people in need or
  • Provide 298 families with four members with one meal each!

A few weeks ago we had the chance to interview Second Harvest Canada and we would love if you took a minute to learn more about Canada's largest food rescue organization and all that they do for those in need across the country. 

1. How did Second Harvest Canada begin? How has the organization evolved since then?

Second Harvest Canada was founded in Toronto in 1985 by two women named Ina Andre and Joan Clayton. The organization started because they saw the amount of food that was going to waste in restaurants and grocery stores and the aligned need for healthy food across the Greater Toronto Area.

Since then, Second Harvest Canada has continued to grow and expand into Canada’s largest food rescue organization while keeping its roots in environmental protection and hunger relief.

A lot has changed since the early days of picking up and distributing food from their hatchback. Second Harvest Canada has now created its own Food Rescue app that launched in 2018. It helps connect food providers directly with agencies in their area to increase the amount of potential food to be rescued.

Additionally, they have developed a children’s program called Feeding Our Future, which assists in giving fresh meals and educational activities to children across the GTA.

2.  How do you source your food?

Sourcing our food is an ongoing and organic process. Our staff work directly with food manufacturers to build relationships with the farmers and retailers across the supply chain and educate them on Second Harvest Canada and our mission as an organization.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Second Harvest was instrumental in creating the Food Rescue Canadian Alliance (FRCA) Taskforce. This Task Force was responsible for ensuring that food would get into the hands of organizations who needed it and populations in acute need across Canada.

Led by Second Harvest, the Task Force consists of national leaders and includes collaboration between the food industry, non-profits, and the government. Members include Loblaw Co. Ltd., Sysco and charities like Breakfast Club of Canada, Salvation Army and food banks.

Learn more about the FRCA here:

3. Are there regulations in Canada for food recycling?

In 1994, the Ontario Legislature passed the Donation of Food Act or Good Samaritan Legislation. This act releases those who donate food or distribute donated food from liability if an individual is affected by the consumption of that food, provided that due diligence is exercised.

This enabled Second Harvest Canada to accept donations from large food corporations, helping the organization to grow substantially.

4. What would you say to people who want to do more in terms of recycling their own food and preventing food waste within their homes?

Second Harvest has so many educational tools on this exact topic. We have an incredible collection of modules that range from:

  • how to read food date labels
  • best practices for storing perishable items
  • proper food handling practices
  • eating to create a more sustainable planet and many more!

These programs are also for all age groups and teach children how to limit their food waste at home from a young age.

Anyone interested in learning more, our website is a great place to start

5. How did the pandemic impact your organization as a whole?

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, our operations have accelerated. This was due to the sudden closure of restaurants and food services which left thousands of pounds of food across Canada at risk of going to waste.

The pandemic also left many Canadians experiencing food insecurity due to other unexpected layoffs – some experiencing food insecurity for the first time.

Second Harvest Canada is now actively working across Canada, with Heads of Operations in each province to onboard both agencies and food retailers. This will help ensure that more food gets to the people who need it most.

At the beginning of 2020, Second Harvest Canada had a three-year strategic rollout plan to bring our rescue and delivery services across Canada. This was altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and our plan was expedited.

By June 2020, we were a recognized National organization operating across Canada.

6. What are the numbers/ impact Second Harvest Canada has had on preventing food waste?

In 2020 Second Harvest Canada's reach was incredible. We rescued approximately:

  • 22.3 million lbs of food to support 4,336 agency programs across Canada and
  • resulted in 75 million lbs of GHGs averted from our atmosphere 

Read more about Second Harvest’s 2020 impact here:

We wanted to thank Second Harvest Canada for teaming up with us these past few months in our first days of business! 

In honour of Indigenous History month, Nature's Bodega will be donating $1.00 from every order through May-September to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society for our next donation period.

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 This interview has been lightly edited and all responses and opinions expressed in this interview belong to Second Harvest Canada. 

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