Why We Exist
Fighting Food Waste
There’s no other way to put it – we have a food waste problem. Millions of pounds (worth $49.5 BILLION dollars) of perfectly edible food ends up in Canadian landfills each year. Not only does this food loss and waste have an enormous economic cost to businesses and society, it also has a significant impact on the environment. We connect perfectly good, healthy, unsold food to service agencies that help those in need and to local vendors who repurpose the food, giving it a second life.
Fighting Inequitable Food Access
Despite the abundance of food in Canada, not all Canadians have access to healthy and affordable food. More than 1 in 10 Albertans experience food insecurity, meaning that they cannot obtain enough food to lead an active, healthy life. Limited food access has been found to disproportionately affect low-income individuals who are more likely to live in communities with limited availability of healthy foods, specifically fresh fruits and vegetables. These types of under-served communities, often referred to as “food deserts”, tend to have few food retailers who sell healthful and affordable food products and more food retailers who sell less healthful foods.
Low-income individuals living in communities with limited healthful food access tend to have less healthful diets and run a higher risk for chronic disease, such as various cancers, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes, compared to individuals living in higher income communities.
Leftovers works closely with Fresh Routes, a social enterprise that provides Albertans with access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. Working with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers, Fresh Routes provides a comprehensive approach to improve food access that combines nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food.
Fighting Climate Change
From 2010 to 2016, food waste accounted for 8 to 10% of human caused greenhouse gas emissions. According to a recent study, food loss and waste represents 60% of the entire food industry’s environmental footprint. In addition, food that ends up in landfill creates methane gas which is 25 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.
The need to tackle food loss and waste is an urgent priority that must be addressed by all levels of government, industry and individuals. If any progress is going to be made, we need society to rethink how excess food is viewed. We need behavioural change from consumers and industry. By redirecting food to be consumed rather than wasted, Leftovers has already significantly reduced the amount of methane gas produced in Alberta. In 2017 alone, Leftovers diverted 616 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere (the equivalent of 134 vehicles).