Partnership Spotlight: Sobeys & the Food Rescue App

by | Jul 4, 2022 | Community

Since 2002, Sobeys has been one of Second Harvest’s major food donor partners, with many of their stores embracing the food rescue program that supports thousands of communities across the country. In 2021, seeing that the pandemic had an impact across the country on access to healthy food, Sobeys commitment to food rescue skyrocketed. 

This year, Sobeys Inc. launched a national partnership with Second Harvest to onboard all of their grocery banner stores onto the Second Harvest Food Rescue App and fund the App’s reach into the Atlantic provinces. Not only did the expansion include all Sobeys stores, but also, Safeway, Foodland, IGA, Thrifty Foods, FreshCo, and Voilà banners. In total over 500 stores joined the Food Rescue App across Canada, which support over 700 local social service organizations. Simcoe Hall, an agency in Oshawa that uses the Food Rescue App and manages a food bank, explains the benefit of joining the Food Rescue App, “Since the onset of the pandemic the number of clients accessing our food bank services has risen to record numbers. In 2021 we saw a 36% increase in new clients alone and serviced 1,141 households just last month. We are grateful for the partnership that we developed with Sobeys and Second Harvest starting in July of 2021. Sobeys food donations have provided enough food for 12,200 meals to vulnerable communities.  We cannot thank Sobeys in Oshawa enough for their ongoing commitment and support to Simcoe Hall, the community and for helping us ensure that everyone has a spot at the table,” explains the agency partner.

Of all the food retail stores currently donating food through the Food Rescue app, Sobeys is the retailer with the highest number of stores actively using the Food Rescue App and has grown to become the App’s largest food donor, donating an incredible 12 million pounds of surplus food since last year, which is the equivalent of $30 million worth of healthy food, provided to communities completely free. 

As Heidi Ivosevic, Sustainability Specialist at Sobeys explains, “Our partnership with Second Harvest is an incredible opportunity to expand our existing food rescue and donation programs and is a significant step towards achieving our company’s goal of reducing food waste by 50 per cent by 2025. One of the greatest benefits of adopting the Second Harvest Food Rescue App is that it makes it easier for our stores to donate surplus food to local charities. With the help from Second Harvest, we have successfully rolled out a food rescue program to all our grocery banner stores in English Canada. We are truly grateful for their knowledge, support, and deep level of commitment. We couldn’t have done it without Second Harvest!”

By diverting food from going to landfills, Sobeys has prevented more than 15 million kgs of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent of taking more than 4,800 cars off the road for one year. 

The onboarding of the stores onto the Food Rescue App has also provided a standardized and centralized way for Sobeys Inc. stores to donate their surplus food.

“There are a lot of neat things about the app. The best is setting up the reoccurring donation as we are all busy, and when the Food Bank shows up, the food is waiting for them and it takes no time at all. Another neat thing is, since we’ve been using it for some time now, we’re able to brag about how much we’ve donated. From week to week, it doesn’t seem like much but when we looked over a year, we had donated approximately the equivalent of 11,000 meals so far. That type of info really drives home why we do this. All in all, it’s good to treat the food with respect and give it to people in need. But as a side note, I also feel really good about not putting as much food in the garbage, as we would have in years gone by,” explains Justin Phelan, Foodland Franchise Operator Vankleek Hill.

A Growing Partnership

Second Harvest is excited to see this special partnership with Sobeys grow. In the coming year, we have a shared goal of onboarding Sobeys Retail Support Centres across Canada and all of Sobeys remaining stores across the country: that’s the equivalent of approximately 1,200 store locations that will donate surplus food to communities in need.

We are truly grateful to Sobeys for their growing commitment to support communities, rescue food and play their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

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