This is an excerpt from Second Harvest’s recently published Annual Report for 2023. To learn more about the inspiring partners, donors and non-profits we work with, read the full report here.
Second Harvest has completed the first year of our ambitious three-year strategic plan and together we have made an enormous difference in the lives of people experiencing food insecurity and the planet. Many of the goals we set for ourselves in this strategic plan were not only met, but exceeded a full two years ahead of schedule.
2023 was a difficult year for many Canadians. Affordability and inflation, combined with the climate crisis led to a significant increase in the number of people experiencing food insecurity and relying on non-profits to meet those needs. In response, Second Harvest rescued and redistributed 74.4 million pounds of food, surpassing our 2025 target of 72 million pounds by 3.3%.
With this food we were able to reach more than 4,400 non-profits and charities, putting us 88% of the way towards our goal of reaching 5,000 organizations by 2025. Rescued food was used to support more than 14,000 programs operated by these non-profits, exceeding the goal we set for 2025 by 40%.
Our Training & Education Platform reached 7,507 people in the last twelve months, which is an increase of more than 2,500 people from the previous year, surpassing our goal for 2025 to engage 5,500 individuals annually by 36%.
Through corporate food sort opportunities at our main warehouse location, events and other opportunities, the number of volunteers that donated their time to Second Harvest increased to 3,086 in 2023 – 54% above the goal we set for 2025.
Food loss and waste’s impact on climate change
Our team completed the creation of new calculators for greenhouse gas aversion and water waste prevention, which will help more accurately track the environmental impact of food rescue and redistribution. We aimed to complete these calculators by 2025 and have achieved this milestone a full two years early.
Through our growing social media platform, as well as in Second Harvest’s testimony in the House of Commons, we kicked off two grassroots campaigns related to consumer food waste and the elimination of best before dates.
Notably, following our testimony in the House of Commons, The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food released a report examining grocery affordability which included a recommendation that the government investigate how eliminating best before dates would impact Canadians, as well as a recommendation that the government partner with non-profit organizations and large food retailers to develop programs to divert food that would otherwise be wasted to Canadians experiencing food insecurity.
These actions have tremendously supported our strategic goal of advocating for public policy changes to align with Canada’s UN commitment to reduce food loss and waste in half by 2030.
Honour people and the planet
This past year we have made significant progress towards our goal of reaching Net-Zero in our operations, by carefully evaluating the current state of our own business carbon footprint. In 2023 we completed the measurement of Second Harvest’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
We also purchased our very first electric delivery van. We had hoped to start electrifying our fleet by 2025 and are excited to have brought this new van in so early.