Second Harvest

Second Harvest is a charity that rescues fresh, surplus food, that would otherwise go to waste, from grocery stores, manufacturers, distributors, farmers, restaurants and hotels. The food is delivered daily to more than 220 social service agencies, feeding people experiencing hunger across Toronto. Since 1985 Second Harvest has rescued and delivered over 100 million pounds of good food, thus preventing more than 50 million pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. Second Harvest’s vision: No Waste. No Hunger.

Second Harvest trucks rescue and deliver food across Toronto every dayOur Story What We Do

History of Organization

It all started in 1985 when two local women, Ina Andre and JoanClayton, saw that good food was being thrown away while people weregoing hungry right here in Toronto. This contradiction didn’t sit wellwith them so they decided to do something about it.

Ina and Joan started driving around the city in their hatchbacks askingrestaurants and grocery stores to donate their excess, fresh food sothey could take it to hungry people, instead of throwing it in thegarbage. The restaurateurs and retailers agreed and Second Harvest wasborn.

With a vision, that no one need ever go hungry in the communities weserve, the original intention of Second Harvest was the ultimate demiseof the organization. Our founders hoped the future would not include theneed for food rescue and hunger relief. Unfortunately, 30 yearslater the need for food has only grown and Second Harvest now provides acritical service to thousands of people every day in Toronto. Since1985 we have rescued and delivered 100 million pounds of foodand prevented 50 million pounds of greenhouse gas equivalents fromentering our atmosphere.

Our Programs How We Do It

Second Harvest’s Direct Delivery Program

Second Harvest is Canada's largest perishable food recovery organization and uses a common-sense approach to hunger relief. Our seven refrigerated trucks collect donated food from manufacturers, distributors, grocery stores, and other food purveyors – good food that would otherwise go to waste – and deliver it to over 200 social service agencies working on the front lines of hunger – community centres, shelters, meal programs and drop-in centres. These agencies provide food to children in need, the working poor, seniors on fixed incomes, women fleeing domestic abuse, homeless people, psychiatric patients and thousands of others who have fallen on hard times.

Program Impact

We deliver service that goes beyond food. Each year we now rescue and deliver over 7 million pounds of good food. As a result our agencies were able to save millions of dollars in food costs. In fact, our food deliveries save each agency about $60,000 per year. Thus, we enable our agency partners to direct these saved dollars to their core programs. We also deliver environmental stewardship. Last year alone, over 3.5 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions were prevented from entering our atmosphere because of the food we diverted from landfills.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Food bank users on social assistance pay, on average, 73% of income on housing and utilities, leaving about $5.67/person/day for food, clothing and all other expenses."

“70% of food bank visitors pay market value rents.”

"Rising consumer prices disproportionally affect poor families: Overall price increases for consumer goods and services (20.2% since 2002) masked an even larger jump in some staples (home fuel oil increased by 140%, bread by 79.5%, and pasta by 52.7%). Some luxury items (hotels and recreational equipment) dropped in price."

(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2012)

Participant Vignette

Breaking the Cycle receives food from Second Harvest through our Direct Delivery program.  "Every day Second Harvest makes a difference in the lives of our clients," says an employee of Breaking the Cycle (Mothercraft). "The children, moms and moms-to-be at our centre enjoy and appreciate the nutritious food that Second Harvest provides. Here is just one example of how Second Harvest has made a difference in the lives of our clients: "When our Food Program Manager asked a young boy if he would like to have some milk with his lunch, he looked to his mother and asked for permission. His mother went on to explain that he loves milk but because they cannot afford much milk at home, he cannot always have it. When his mother told him that he could drink milk any time at our centre, this young growing boy lit up with excitement and a huge smile came across his face. At a later visit that same mother said that her son loves to come to our centre because he can have all the milk he needs. "Thank you Second Harvest for providing the foundation of our Food Supplementation Program, as well as our Community Kitchen Program." – Employee of Breaking the Cycle

Harvest Kitchens

Each day, Second Harvest picks up donated food and transports it to our four Harvest Kitchen partners. In the Harvest Kitchens, individuals facing difficult barriers to employment are trained under the supervision of food service professionals. They learn the skills of the culinary trade while turning rescued food into nourishing prepared meals. The following day, Second Harvest picks up the prepared meals and delivers them to agencies who in turn supply these nutritious meals. Harvest Kitchens provide a benefit to the community at large by providing a highly sought after skills-building and educational opportunity for people who want to improve their career opportunities. Further, the food used in the program is food that would have otherwise gone to waste and ended up in the landfill.

Program Impact

The Harvest Kitchens program remains a vital component of Second Harvest’s hunger relief efforts, which address the food insecurity that thousands of Torontonians face every day. The agencies which receive Harvest Kitchens’ meals are those which do not have the facilities to prepare and serve meals. These agencies were receiving shelf-stable products from other hunger relief organizations, but lacked the essential, perishable components of a healthy diet such as protein, dairy and produce. Additionally, many of the clients of these agencies lacked kitchen facilities to prepare the food in their food hampers, and so even with some food support, they were still not able to eat as frequently or as healthily as one would hope. With the delivery of Harvest Kitchens’ meals, the agencies were able to offer meal programs, and thus their clients are now able to eat hot, nourishing meals in addition to taking home a food hamper.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“The average cost of basic nutritious food for a family of four in Toronto rose by 9.4% over two years. This same family on social assistance would need to spend 33% of its income on food and 72% on rent – that’s more than they have and doesn’t include other basic needs.”

“More than 30% of children five and under are in families that are below the Low Income Cut-off and the median employment income for families in 2006 was 20% below the provincial median.”

(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2009)

Participant Vignette

"It was a great challenge at first working with so many kinds of food. I realized that being creative is huge part of working in the hospitality field. The opportunity to get so much hands-on training has given me the confidence to find a job in the catering field which will hopefully lead me to having my own business. I feel that working with the YMCA and Second Harvest has prepared me to take the next step in my career." - Testimonial from J.D., a graduate of YMCA’s Harvest Kitchens program.

Hunger Squad

Hunger Squad is a program that enlists corporate volunteer teams to spend a portion of their lunch hour picking up surplus food that would otherwise go to waste from local bakeries, cafes, restaurants and retail stores in the downtown core. Teams place the food in insulated bags and deliver it, on foot, to nearby social service agencies.

Program Impact

On average, each team rescues about 200 pounds of food every month and delivers it to social service agencies in the downtown core. This program helps to strengthen employee engagement within companies, while feeding those who are hungry in our city. Furthermore, in the face of rising fuel costs, we can continue recovering small quantities of food in a more efficient and environmentally friendly way on foot rather than using trucks.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“The average cost of basic nutritious food for a family of four in Toronto rose by 9.4% over two years. This same family on social assistance would need to spend 33% of its income on food and 72% on rent – that’s more than they have and doesn’t include other basic needs.”

“More than 30% of children five and under are in families that are below the Low Income Cut-off and the median employment income for families in 2006 was 20% below the provincial median.”

(Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2009)

Participant Vignette

“Concerning my Hunger Squad experience, I find that it is a sobering and impactful experience to see and speak with those folks who are struggling to get by in our city and who receive much-needed assistance from their agency (and Second Harvest). It is also very gratifying to hear how grateful both the clients and the staff at the agency are for the food we deliver. I would recommend that anyone who is in a position to become involved with a Hunger Squad do so - for the people that need assistance and for themselves.” – Scotiabank Volunteer

What You Can Do

Second Harvest’s Food Rescue Program

Impact of donations

  • Donate a new diesel truck $130,000
  • Supply fuel for 7 trucks $70,000
  • Support the delivery of food to one recipient program $3,856

Donation impact

A grant would mean that we could feed more people, rescue more good food and help build healthier communities. Almost 40% of our food recipients are children/youth. The people served by our agencies have little to no food security, let alone access to fresh and nutritious foods such as produce, meat, dairy products, and healthy prepared meals. Grants supporting our operations, office and food deliveries would be mean more nutritious meals for those who are hungry. For each $1 donation, Second Harvest can deliver nutritious food for 2 meals.

Harvest Kitchens

Activities a donation will support

  • Pay for food deliveries to and from a Harvest Kitchens partner - $61,500/year
  • Pay for a chef trainer - $35,000/year
  • Pay for aluminium food trays - $24,000/year

Donation impact

With your financial support, Second Harvest will be able to feed more people who are hungry in our city and provide job skills and training to more individuals who are marginalized from the workforce. This will have the added benefits of adding more skilled labour into the workforce and providing more nutritious meals to those who are hungry in Toronto.

Hunger Squad

Activities a donation will support

  • Insulated bags - $960
  • Food storage containers - $500
  • Food donor recruitment - $2,000

Donation impact

With more funds we could grow the program which would translate into more good food, rescued on foot, and more people fed.

Contact

Jennifer Verschraegen
Director of Development
416.408.2594 x231
Charitable Number: 133865477RR0001

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