From Coast to Coast to Coast: No Hunger Need Too Far

From Coast to Coast to Coast: No Hunger Need Too Far

In 2021, Second Harvest rescued 41 million pounds of food sent to over 6,400 nonprofit programs across Canada. Together with their support and the generous donations, time, and resources from countless other donors, organizations, volunteers, and staff, we helped rescue enough surplus food to provide Canadians with 110,000 meals every day. That is outstanding local and country-wide hunger relief efforts.

During and since the pandemic, Second Harvest expanded its scope nationally to support regional connections with the help of our Food Rescue App. The app helps link folks who have surplus food to give with those who need it in local communities Canada-wide. In its first year of launch, the app welcomed 5,000 new users and saw 11,000 food donations. Today, anyone from independent grocers to large manufacturers and producers can rescue and donate food, giving it to any nonprofit and community member in need of it locally and nationally. 

In honour of our collective country-wide efforts, here are on-the-ground stories of how food rescue is changing and saving lives from coast to coast to coast. Thank you for your generosity and support. Together, we’re working toward our mission of seeing Canada with No Waste. No Hunger. 

Canada’s Outstanding Hunger Relief and Food Rescue Efforts

Hearing these stories helps shine a light on the crucial work that’s happening regionally across our nation. Millions of Canadians struggle to put food on their table. During COVID, the equivalent population of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba combined were food insecure in Canada. And yet there is so much hope and outstanding efforts taking place everywhere. People are stepping up. In fact, Second Harvest rescued food from over 4,500 food donors and redistributed it to over 3,000 nonprofits in 900 communities across Canada in 2021. By mid-2022, we’re well on track with our annual goal to rescue 42 million pounds of surplus food.

Our work is far from done, but when it comes to food rescue, we’re proud to support such a generous and helpful community. 

Feeding Canadians From Coast to Coast to Coast

Food Rescue and Hunger Relief Efforts From the Atlantic Coast… 

From Canada’s Invisible Food Network 2021 report by Second Harvest - Atlantic Canada's Hunger Relief Statistics
From Canada’s Invisible Food Network 2021 report by Second Harvest

“Food is often the first key component to helping individuals. Second Harvest has allowed us the opportunity to expand our client base, to capture the much-needed lower to middle-income families who have been struggling… quite simply, we have not had to turn one person down who is hungry which is huge.” 

—Salvation Army Center for Hope, St. John’s, NL

“This need will not go away after COVID, and programs like this [Surplus Food Rescue Program and the Second Harvest Food Rescue App] are needed to continue to create relationships between those with access to excess food to those organizations that can use it to address food insecurity.” 

—MetroWorks Employment Association, Halifax

“We are so grateful to Second Harvest for making it possible to support so many in PEI during COVID-19. The Adventure Group knows that food security is an essential part to living a physically and mentally healthy life. We have been able to use this opportunity to ease stress and let vulnerable Islanders know they are not alone through this pandemic.”

—The Adventure Group, Prince Edward Island 

“Second Harvest’s support is absolutely critical to our food security efforts in the Tantramar region. We’ve received food gift cards and participated in their surplus food program. Both have allowed us to provide more food to more people. The surplus food program gave us access to beef, fish, and poultry, which are foods more difficult for us to purchase due to cost.” 

—Tantramar School Food Response, New Brunswick
Second Harvest’s Sami Abdurahim was named the 2022 Highway Star of the Year for his dedication and professionalism as lead driver-ambassador, delivering fresh rescued food across Southern Ontario.
Second Harvest’s Sami Abdurahim was named the 2022 Highway Star of the Year for his dedication and professionalism as lead driver-ambassador, delivering fresh rescued food across Southern Ontario. 

To Quebec…

From Canada’s Invisible Food Network 2021 report by Second Harvest - Quebec's Hunger Relief Statistics
Second Harvest’s 2021 Impact in Quebec

“Our community was hit very hard by COVID but with the help of Second Harvest, we are helping 50 families from our town with a family meal and a big box of groceries every week. From all the families we helped, your support has been life-changing and with your support, we gave the basic needs to some families who struggle to obtain them and we helped kids learn in schools.” 

—Frontline Worker, Centre Lasallien, Montreal, QC 

And Ontario…

From Canada’s Invisible Food Network 2021 report by Second Harvest - Ontario's Hunger Relief Statistics
Second Harvest’s 2021 Impact in Ontario

“[Second Harvest’s] Harvest Kitchen trays play an integral part of our meal program. We’ve noticed that clients are spending more time engaging with volunteers/staff/other clients. We know that this program helps to promote community, networking, and minimize feelings of isolation and depression.”

The Lighthouse community centre, Toronto, Ontario

“The presence (virtually or at a social distance) of Youth Unlimited’s team is needed more than ever. With the generous support of Second Harvest [and the food rescue app], we are especially pivoting to provide our more than 800 vulnerable youth with food and basic essentials, such as healthcare, protective and hygienic supplies, as well as online social and mental health supports and mentoring.” 

—Youth Unlimited, Toronto, Ontario

From Across the Prairies…

From Canada’s Invisible Food Network 2021 report by Second Harvest - Manitoba's Hunger Relief Statistics
Second Harvest’s 2021 Impact in Manitoba

“Today we received a great mix of fresh food—mushrooms, avocados, kale, grapes, salads, yogurt, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, and more—and we were able to disburse all seven pallets of it to 26 schools in under 90 minutes. Everyone was so grateful to have this food to pass along to our families. Right now, our families are sitting down to meals that were partially supplemented or made entirely out of ingredients this donation provided.” 

—The Winnipeg School District, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Caption: From Canada’s Invisible Food Network 2021 report by Second Harvest - Canada's Prairies Hunger Relief efforts - supply versus demand of food rescue
From Canada’s Invisible Food Network 2021 report by Second Harvest 

“Saskatoon Friendship Inn provides food security for vulnerable people by offering nutritious breakfast and lunch meals, 365 days of the year. We are powered by generosity and partnerships, relying on the community to help create a compassionate sense of belonging for our neighbours in need. Support from Second Harvest Canada is helping the Inn adapt our operations, adjust capacity in our dining room, and add a new takeaway meal service to ensure no one is turned away or leaves hungry.”

—Saskatoon Friendship Inn, Saskatchewan
72% more Canadians used food charities during COVID-19. Every food charity across in Canada served more people because of the pandemic.
72% more Canadians used food charities during COVID-19. Every food charity across in Canada served more people because of the pandemic.
Second Harvest’s 2021 Impact in Alberta

“Food to our family is our love language. We use food to have family time around the table. I bake and cook to show my appreciation and love… for my family. We hit hard times and I needed to express my love language more than ever. That’s when Second Harvest and Calgary Family Peer Connections were there to support me and my family.” 

—Calgary Family Peer Connections, Alberta

To Hunger Relief and Food Rescue on the Pacific Coast in British Columbia…

Second Harvest’s 2021 Impact in BC

 “This has been a very humbling experience for many of the staff, with them reporting that some families have literally cried in relief upon receipt of the gift cards, and for those staff who have assisted individuals with the grocery shopping they report individuals being very excited that they are able to purchase items such as a kiwi or mango, things that even pre-COVID they were unable to afford. As an organization, we are working to continue to support our individuals and families and looking at unique ways to ensure food security for them.”

Port Alberni Association for Community Living, British Columbia 

And Up to the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut 

From Canada’s Invisible Food Network 2021 report by Second Harvest - Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut hunger relief efforts
From Canada’s Invisible Food Network 2021 report by Second Harvest 

“Aklavik is a community of 600 people in the Northwest Territories. Second Harvest has been able to provide this community with rescued surplus food despite being very far north – 833 km north of Whitehorse to be exact! The first plane came in with nine pallets full of food. We fed all of Aklavik for a couple of weeks for sure, if that’s all the food they had, and for some people for a couple of months. It was a lot of food—and good food.” 

—Ehdiitat Gwich’in Council, Aklavik, NT 

“That is FABULOUS news. Mähsi Cho from all our families to yours.” 

—Healthy Families, Healthy Babies, Dawson City, YT (Mahsi Cho is Gwich’in language)

Partnership Spotlight: Sobeys & the Food Rescue App

Partnership Spotlight: Sobeys & the Food Rescue App

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. 

Burger, fries, root beer and a side of charity: A&W’s work with the Second Harvest Food Rescue App

Burger, fries, root beer and a side of charity: A&W’s work with the Second Harvest Food Rescue App

When a handful of A&W locations started using the Second Harvest Food Rescue App in 2019 the impact was immediate. Since then,  56,794 meals have been donated from 180 different restaurant locations.

A&W specifically donated 9,000 pounds of food from its B.C. warehouse during the catastrophic flooding in British Columbia in 2021. The food distribution to 10 organizations in Abbotsford supported people affected and displaced by the floods. 

With restaurants from coast to coast, and a presence in diverse communities across the country, A&W strives to help their guests take small actions that make the world a better place, whenever they can. This shows up in the food they source, the choices they make to reduce their impact on the environment, and the variety of ways their restaurants give back to the communities they do business in. Partnering with Second Harvest was a natural fit, according to the company.   

“The impact with the Food Rescue app has been outstanding – we’re so grateful for the opportunity to provide meals to Canadians in need. It’s a really simple program for our restaurants to opt-in to and they love being able to give back to their communities while reducing food waste.”

Owen Miller-White, Manager, Restaurant Food Safety & Environment

Donations through the Second Harvest Food Rescue app have supported the distribution of 17.7 Million pounds of food since 2018. This has averted more than 120 Million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the environment. Learn more about the Second Harvest Food Rescue app. And learn about our generous donors and partners, such as A&W.

More than 2,700 individual donations have contributed through the A&W program to more than 181 different community organizations.

BE A HERO: Pull a Truck & Change Lives

BE A HERO: Pull a Truck & Change Lives

The countdown is on and registration is now open! There are exciting things happening this summer and getting ready for Truck Pull is one of them. Set some goals, complete some challenges, have some fun, and fundraise for the fight against food insecurity. Don’t forget that just $1 allows Second Harvest to provide enough food for 2 meals! 

This year’s Truck Pull event takes place on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto.

The Second Harvest truck weighs 10 tons and your job, with 9 of your closest friends, is to pull it 100 feet across the Square with the fastest time possible. All teams must fundraise a minimum of $2,000 to participate. These donations help with rescuing and redistributing healthy, fresh food from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

If you think you have what it takes to move this truck then register your team today! Any questions can be directed to

Check out some of the intense (and fun) the action from 2019.

Toronto Taste’s Thrilling Chef Challenge: Meet This Year’s Challengers

Toronto Taste’s Thrilling Chef Challenge: Meet This Year’s Challengers

Join us on June 12, 2022, at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works for the 30th Anniversary of Toronto Taste! This annual culinary extravaganza is an evening supporting Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue charity. Toronto Taste brings together the best of the city’s food scene with dozens of the GTA’s top chefs and restaurateurs serving their best dishes and in attendance. 

One of Toronto Taste’s most thrilling events of the day is the Chef Challenge. In this live event (taking place on the main stage at 7:30 pm), three of GTA’s top chefs are given 30 minutes to prepare a dish from a box of mystery ingredients. An expert panel then judges the dishes to determine a winner. 

Let’s meet our Toronto Taste hosts, top chef challengers, and judges, shall we?

Meet This Year’s Toronto Taste Hosts

Bob Blumer is a gastronaut, author, and eight-time Guinness World Record holder. He’s best known as the creator and host of Food Network’s award-winning shows Surreal Gourmet, Glutton for Punishment, and World’s Weirdest Restaurants. He’s written seven cookbooks, transforming ordinary ingredients with simple cooking methods into works of art. He is a long-term ambassador for Second Harvest and Love Food/Hate Waste, a national Canadian zero-waste initiative. 

Toronto Taste 2022 Host, Bob Blumer

Bianca Osbourne is a professionally trained chef, TV personality, and educator. Bianca is a food expert on Canada’s number one Daytime show, The Marilyn Denis Show, and host of her own cooking show, CombiNATION Plates. As an educator, Bianca shares her love of food as a professor at Toronto’s Centennial College and offers a wealth of knowledge on the science behind blood sugar balance through her popular Tik Tok channel, Glucose Tips for the Gurls.

Toronto Taste 2022 Host, Bianca Osbourne

Meet This Year’s Toronto Taste Chef Challengers

Meet Toronto-born and raised Chef Sam Medeiros. At 26, Sam recently graduated from Sous-Chef to Chef de Cuisine at La Palma Restaurant. After graduating from Culinary School, she travelled the world to learn about cuisines and cultures first-hand. She helped open a small bistro in Grignan, France, became a Tournant for a restaurant group in Hong Kong, and toured the world of food before landing back in her hometown. When it comes to cooking, Sam highlights the simplicity of her ingredients masterfully. 

Toronto Taste 2022 Chef Challenger, Chef Sam Medeiros

Meet Chef Phil Nguyen. His mother’s Vietnamese home cooking inspired his culinary career at a young age. Phil’s mastered the art of cooking at a range of top restaurants, including L’unita Restaurant in Yorkville, Grand Electic, Jacobs & Co. Steakhouse, and opening Hotel X Toronto. Phil’s excited to share his Vietnamese culinary roots with finely crafted recipes.

Toronto Taste 2022 Chef Challenger, Chef Phil Nguyen

Meet Chef Jamie Robb. Real Sports’ Executive Chef, Jamie grew up in the kitchen learning from his chef mother and grandmother in a town just outside of Glasgow. After attending Canada’s George Brown’s Culinary program, he’s worked in kitchens across Southern Ontario and Alberta, including Via Allegro and Ultra Supper Club. Jaime’s been with MLSE since 2014, beginning as Sous Chef for both Real Sports and E11even, where he ran the Ontario Corn Fed Beef Program for the restaurant group. His secret ingredient? Love. 

Toronto Taste 2022 Chef Challenger, Chef Jamie Robb

Meet This Year’s Toronto Taste Chef Challenge Judges

Meet chef, entrepreneur, author, TV personality, and Second Harvest Ambassador, Matt Basile. Matt is the author of best-selling cookbooks, Street Food Diaries and Brunch Life, and host of the show, Rebel Without a Kitchen. He is a food-scene creative consultant, product and recipe developer, and content creator, set to launch a new and big project this year. 

Toronto Taste 2022 Chef Challenge Judge, Chef Matt Basile

Meet Julie Miguel, a food content creator and food media digital content producer. After placing seventh in the inaugural season of CTV’s MasterChef Canada, her lifelong passion for food kick-started her food media career and helped launch her blog, Daily Tiramisu. Since then, she’s appeared as a culinary expert on CTV Your Morning, Cityline, The Marilyn Denis Show, Fridge Wars, and other major TV channels. She’s partnered with nationally recognized food and lifestyle brands and co-founded The Happy Kitchen, a youth program that teaches life skills in the kitchen. She’s travelled the world to train and work with chefs and take on leadership roles at Centennial College and Taste Canada Awards.

Toronto Taste 2022 Chef Challenge Judge, Julie Miguel

Meet Juriaan Snellen, the Executive Corporate Chef at McCormick Canada. Juriaan previously held Executive Chef roles with major food manufacturers across Europe and North America and has significant culinary experience in fine, casual, and quick-service dining. In Southern France, Juriaan worked at Michelin-star restaurants; in Aruba, he worked as a fine-dining chef. He has his Certified Chef de Cuisine certification and a degree in hotel management. His expertise and his passion for flavour inspire only the most memorable meals.

Toronto Taste 2022 Chef Challenge Judge, Juriaan Snellen

The only questions left are: What creative concoctions will our chefs come up with and what dish will our judges choose as this year’s winner? 

Join us at Toronto Taste on June 12, 2022, at Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works. All proceeds go to supporting Second Harvest’s food rescue and hunger relief. 

Learn more about Toronto Taste.