Food Rescue

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Second Harvest’s food rescue program is designed to offer a seamless pathway for businesses, non-profits and others to reduce unsold surplus food, decreasing overhead costs and lessening their environmental footprint.

For many organizations, having unsold, edible food is a burdening issue – one they do not have appropriate capabilities to deal with. For many non-profits, there is a need for increased access to food donations to support their operations and help feed those in need.

Second Harvest’s food rescue program connects these two groups, setting up networks between food businesses with charities and non-profits to create mutually beneficial and sustainable uses for surplus food.

Our goal is to connect food donors to non-profits.

Our goal is to prevent unnecessary loss of edible food and help businesses, by establishing processes to redistribute and use surplus food. By collaborating with a diverse group of partners and setting up networks between food donors and non-profits, our food rescue programs take edible, delicious food and ensure it doesn’t end up in landfill.

How to Get Started

Our food rescue partners

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Second Harvest Food Rescue App

Looking for a smart way to donate or access surplus food? You just found it.

Our web and mobile app makes it easy for businesses with excess food to donate to social service organizations and non-profits.

Have Questions?

What is the Second Harvest Food Rescue App?

The Second Harvest Food Rescue App connects businesses with surplus food directly to local non-profit organizations that support people in the community. The website and mobile app are available in every province and territory in Canada. Register a free account at FoodRescue.SecondHarvest.ca or by downloading the mobile app from the App Store or Google Play.

How does the food rescue app work for businesses?

Food businesses register a free account at FoodRescue.SecondHarvest.ca or by downloading the Second Harvest Food Rescue App in the App Store or Google Play.

Businesses create a donation by entering details (including types of food available and pick-up times), and recipient non-profit organizations then receive notifications of available donations in their area. Non-profits then pick up the donation at a specified time.

Food businesses can donate to specific organizations if there are existing community partnerships or make donations available to our network of non-profit organizations.

The app even shows you the environmental impact of your rescued food and lets you share your impact story on social media, right from the app.

How does the food rescue app work for non-profits?

Registered charities or non-profit organizations can apply at FoodRescue.SecondHarvest.ca or by downloading the app in the App Store or Google Play to receive notice of donations and will be screened to ensure food safety practices are in place.

Recipient organizations will receive a notification of available donations in their area and will go to the food business at the pick-up time specified.

The app even shows you the environmental impact of your rescued food.

Is rescued food good to eat?

Rescued food is just like any other food.

In Canada we waste 11.2 million metric tonnes of good, edible food every year. This food is perfectly good to eat, but because we lack a cohesive rescue system, it ends up in landfill instead of on our plates.

Second Harvest takes food safety seriously and we ask that food donors and recipient organizations comply with Second Harvest’s donation and recovery guidelines. All facilities need to be up-to-date with local public health requirements and safe food handler’s training. We also offer helpful information to help everyone make the most effective food rescues possible. Second Harvest has many resources to help you donate, rescue and store surplus food. For more information, please visit SecondHarvest.ca/Who-We-Are/Contact-Us/ to connect with a representative in your region.

What are Second Harvest’s food safety policies?

We take food safety seriously and ask that food donors and recipient organizations comply with Second Harvest’s donation and recovery guidelines.

All facilities need to be up to date with local public health requirements, have adequate storage capacity and on-site programming staff and volunteers with their safe food handler certification. We also offer helpful information to help everyone make the most effective food rescues possible.

Are any types of food not rescued?

To ensure everyone’s safety, these foods cannot be donated:

  • Leftover food that has been plated and served, including salad bar ingredients that are exposed to public touch
  • Prepared food that has been temperature abused – cannot be in the temperature danger zone for 2 hours or more
  • Food or drinks with alcohol and/or medicinal ingredients
  • Packaged food that’s been opened or has a broken seal
  • Sushi

Are businesses legally protected when they donate food?

Every province and territory in Canada has a food donation act that protects organizations from liability when donating food. Under the food donation acts, incorporated businesses, non-profits, employees and volunteers are not liable for damages resulting from the consumption of donated food.

Second Harvest takes this assurance one step further by offering education to recipient organizations on safe food handling and by offering a digital paper trail for donations. Should a business need to recall a product, we know exactly where to find it.

We take food safety seriously and ask that food donors and recipient organizations comply with their provincial or territorial food safety requirements. All facilities need to be up to date with health inspections and food safe handling training for anyone who prepares food.

Are there donation size limits?

There are no donation size limits through the Second Harvest Food Rescue App. Whether it’s ten pounds of food or ten thousand pounds, the app helps to match your donations to local charities and non-profits who can accept just the amount of food you have.

For surplus food rescued through the Second Harvest fleet in the Toronto area, we have a minimum pick-up volume of 200lbs.

Non-profit organizations have the flexibility to choose whether they would like to claim any donation, based on what is most appropriate and helpful for their programs.

Can food donors get a tax receipt?

Some food donations may qualify for a tax receipt. For further details, click here.

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