Businesses that generously donate surplus food to Second Harvest improve their environmental impact while helping feed people in need.
At no cost to your business, we manage the logistics of transport and redistribution of all surplus food, either by picking up with our trucks or through FoodRescue.ca. Depending on volume and location, Second Harvest provides regular, reliable pick-up or drop-off opportunities. FoodRescue.ca is the conduit making donations in communities across Ontario.
In considering risk, everyone is protected by provincial legislation, such as Ontario’s Donation of Food Act, 1994, when food is donated in good faith.
Due to implementing strict food safety measures, Second Harvest has not experienced one food safety related incident in 34 years of operation.
Donating food to Second Harvest reduces environmentally harmful greenhouse gas emissions and helps save the environment from unnecessary landfill.
Communities grow stronger when FoodRescue.ca creates local connections and partnerships.
What does Second Harvest Do?
We are a food rescue program that rescues fresh, surplus from over 742 food donors and distributes it to over 373 social service agencies. Thanks to the generosity of our food donors, we are able to provide food for over 34,000 meals per day.
Why should my company donate food to Second Harvest?
It’s a cost-effective, environmental and socially responsible way to deal with surplus food.
- Save on disposal costs
- Reduce food waste
- Feed those experiencing hunger and food insecurity in your community
What about liability?
The Ontario Donation of Food Act protects all companies from any liability when donating food in good will.
What types of food does Second Harvest accept?
- Fresh, frozen, prepared and raw foods including meat, produce, dairy, juice and fresh or frozen meals (raw meat must be frozen before expiry)
- Non-perishable foods, canned and/or packaged
- Surplus, close to code, damaged, mislabeled and discontinued products
- *Past-code product only if verified by manufacturer that it is safe for consumption
What types of food are unacceptable?
- Leftover food that has been ‘plated’ and served
- Prepared food with meat, egg or milk products that has been sitting at room temperature for over 2 hours
- Expired/past code product (unless it meets the above criteria*)
- Food or drinks with alcohol and/or medicinal ingredients
- Open packaged or broken sealed food
Is there a minimum quantity of food required for pick-up?
- To make the best use of our trucks, a min. donation of 200 lbs. is preferred. We have a van route that runs every Tue, Fri that can accommodate donations of 50- 250 lbs. in Downtown Toronto.
- For donations that do not meet the minimum requirements, we can make alternate arrangements to ensure the product does not go to waste.
How do I start donating?
Pick-ups are arranged simply by phoning the office at 416.408.2594 and Dialing 1 for Dispatch. You can choose a regularly scheduled pick-up day(s) if you have surplus food at least once a week. Or you can choose to call on an ad-hoc basis. Second Harvest can often pick up food on the same day you call in, or within 24 hours.
Does Second Harvest re-sell donated food?
No, Second Harvest does NOT re-sell food. Our food donors are our partners in Hunger Relief. All food donations are distributed at no cost to the social services agencies feeding people in need.
How do you safely pick-up and transport donated food?
- All food donations are picked up and transported in one of our nine refrigerated trucks or refrigerated van.
- All Second Harvest drivers are trained in the operation of the refrigeration unit and proper storage temperatures.
- All drivers are certified in food safety through the Toronto Public Health Safe Food Handling course.
How do you ensure safe storage of fresh/frozen food?
- We distribute fresh/frozen food only to agencies with adequate refrigerator/freezer storage space and conditions.
- We have temperature controlled freezer and cooler space in our warehouse.
- All food skids stored in the cooler/freezer are rotated and pushed out according to either best before dates (meat, dairy, prepared) or quality (produce).
- We are regularly monitored and comply with Toronto Public Health Standards.
I am concerned about brand integrity. How can you protect this?
Upon your request, we will gladly repackage food product or remove branded labels in our warehouse before distribution. We can also send photos of this process.
Do your recipient agencies know how to handle food safely?
- We ensure that at least one agency representative/chef at each recipient agency is Safe Food Handling certified.
- Recipient agency kitchens are regularly audited by a Second Harvest staff member for their food safety practices.
- Twice annually, we organize free workshops for staff and volunteers from our recipient agencies that include safe food handling training taught by a public health rep.
How do you ensure that high risk food (i.e. fresh/frozen meat) is safely prepared?
- Uncooked fresh/frozen meat donations are ONLY distributed to agencies with full working kitchens, whereby the meat is safely cooked and prepared on site.
- To ensure that no individuals receive uncooked fresh/frozen meat, we do NOT distribute meat to Food Banks.
Do we accept food that is past its ‘best before’ date?
Yes, as long is the food is non-perishable and has unopened packaging. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), you can safely eat food after the “best before” date has passed. “Best before” dates are indicators of food quality, not food safety. When the date has passed, food may lose some of its freshness, flavor, texture, and/or nutritional value.
How many months past the ‘best before’ date is acceptable?
No more than 6 months for all non-perishable food, provided it’s sealed and stored in a well-ventilated, climate controlled environment. Baby food is the exception. Second Harvest does not accept any baby food that is past “best before” date. All baby food must have at least one month before its “best before” date arrives.
Do we accept food that is past its expiration date?
No, with the exception of certain food that is frozen before expiry (see below). According to CFIA, food should not be eaten if the expiration date has passed. Expired food should be discarded.
Do we accept expired food if it is frozen before expiry?
Yes, within freezer storage time limits. According to the USDA, frozen foods remain safe indefinitely because freezing prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and food borne illness. However, the quality of frozen food deteriorates over time.
Since fruit and veggies do not always have an expiry date, what type of produce do you accept?
Edible please. No fruits or vegetables with mold, decay, discoloration, and/or off odor.