Joe Davidson’s journey with Second Harvest

by | Apr 8, 2024 | Community, Environment, Food Waste, Hunger Relief

Editor’s Note: Second Harvest recognizes volunteers who have demonstrated dedication to our mission through their support with The Essential Harvester Award, one of the categories in the annual Food Rescue Awards event.  

This year’s nominees were Jim Kotowich, Nicole Caguiat and Joe Davidson, all of whom have made a significant impact on our success as an organization. Here, we spotlight the story of Joe Davidson, the winner of the 2024 Essential Harvester Award. 

While Joe Davidson and his wife were volunteering at a food bank in the Annex, they would often see a Second Harvest delivery truck. That piqued Joe’s interest, and after learning more about the organization’s mission, he signed up to be a volunteer without hesitation.  

“Food rescue addresses two of my primary concerns: food insecurity and climate change,” Joe said.  

Joe’s support couldn’t have come at a better time. It was early 2022—pandemic restrictions were slowly easing and Second Harvest just started to expand our community of volunteers. Following an initial call with the organization, Joe took the initiative to create a volunteer management system from scratch, drawing on his skills and experience working with Excel and data in the aviation industry. 

Since August 2022, Joe has spent over 500 hours on building and improving this system with Second Harvest’s volunteer services team. The result is a comprehensive database that covers the entire volunteer cycle, including recruiting, tracking and managing active and prospective volunteers. Joe’s expertise, along with his enthusiasm and solution-oriented attitude, has been invaluable.  

Joe has also been an ambassador for Second Harvest at major events. His most memorable experience was at The Royal Winter Fair, where we had an information booth with various interactive and educational activations about food waste. Joe enjoyed talking to guests and sharing his knowledge on the causes and impact of food waste. To his surprise, many were unaware that perfectly edible fruits and vegetables can end up in landfills just because they don’t meet certain esthetic standards.  

“You could actually see people visibly get angry that food waste would happen,” he recalled, “I’m hoping that this type of discussion will inspire people to take more action to address this problem.” 

To Joe, having awareness about a challenge is the first step towards understanding and solving it. During a truck ride-along with a Second Harvest’s driver-ambassador on his delivery route, Joe witnessed first-hand the effort that went into supporting those in need and the power of community actions. The experience gave him a new perspective on the magnitude of food insecurity in Toronto and fuelled his commitment to this cause.  

“We need to be better stewards of the environment and of each other. We need to be more compassionate, to take better care of each other, and strengthen our communities,” Joe said.  

Through conversations with friends, family and neighbours, he hopes to inspire them to learn more about food rescue, reflect on their habits to reduce food waste and support organizations like Second Harvest.  

“You don’t have to picture yourself performing a certain role before you apply to be a volunteer,” Joe said. “Just simply make it be known that you have the time and the willingness.” 

From supporting Syrian refugees to volunteering with Doctors Without Borders and a local climate organization, Joe has been actively involved in community service for the past 12 years. For now, his focus remains on Second Harvest.  

“I hope that I’m able to offer as much as I can as an individual, to continue to support the organization as long as I’m able to,” Joe said.  

Join Joe and other volunteers in making a tangible difference on the fight against food insecurity and food waste—become a Second Harvest volunteer today! 

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