Second Harvest bridges the gap between excess food and hunger.
Ina Andre and Joan Clayton, two Toronto women, founded Second Harvest in 1985 as a way to address the growing problem of hunger in Toronto. All they had was a hatchback and a vision – that nobody in our community need ever go hungry. From these humble beginnings, collecting fresh food that would otherwise go to waste from the city’s restaurants and small grocery stores and delivering it to shelters across the city, Second Harvest has grown to provide enough food for 19,000 meals every day.
Our mission is to help feed hungry people by picking up and preparing excess food and delivering it daily to community agencies in Toronto.
Our vision is that no one need ever go hungry in the communities we serve.
The work we do at Second Harvest is guided by our values:
A common-sense approach to hunger relief and food waste.
Respect for each other, our partner agencies & recipients, donors, volunteers and our environment.
Service to the community with integrity – working compassionately, honestly and with transparency.
Embracing diversity in everything we do.
Second Harvest rescues excess food and brings it to the people who need it most – it’s that simple. Each morning, eight refrigerated trucks leave our warehouse and head to the four corners of Toronto, rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste. This food comes from hundreds of food donors at every point of the supply chain, including manufacturers, processors and growers; distributors, brokers, food storage facilities, wholesalers and retailers; event venues and special events, festivals and trade shows; businesses in the foodservice and hospitality industry; company meetings and events; and employee and community food drives. Within 24 hours, we deliver this food to our agency network in the city (more than 200 organizations), where it is transformed into hot meals at shelters, children’s programs, drop-in and community centres, and seniors programs. Or, it is distributed to individuals at neighbourhood food banks. What makes us unique is that we deal primarily with perishable food – about 80% of our deliveries are fruits, vegetables, dairy products, frozen foods, bread and meats – and we do not purchase food. It is all excess food that would have otherwise gone to waste. We divert good food from landfills.
In addition to this core food rescue and delivery service, we are engaged in multiple collaborative projects and programs to get more food to more people who need it:
- Harvest Kitchens, which combines hunger relief and culinary skills training for people facing barriers to employment.
- Second Harvest Outreach Program (SHOP), which connects excess produce directly with individuals living in food deserts.
- Feeding Our Future, which delivers thousands of lunches to kids in summer day camps.
- Hunger Squad, which engages our corporate and individual volunteer community in on-foot food rescue and delivery.
- Agency Connections, which provides networking and professional development opportunities to the staff at our recipient agencies.
Why Support Second Harvest?
We are EFFICIENT, connecting food donations large and small to community agencies within 24 hours. Our cost to deliver a pound of food is less than $0.50, and our administrative and fundraising costs were approximately 11% at the end of our most recent fiscal year. Every $1 donated provides food for 2 meals.
We are COMMUNITY BUILDERS AND ACTIVATORS, fostering collaborative connections between hundreds of hunger relief efforts led by organizations, community groups and individuals.
We INCREASE THE CAPACITY of the agencies we serve by providing free resources that enable them to add significant value to their existing programs and services. For each dollar donated in the past year, we delivered over $4 worth of food.
We COMPLEMENT THE EXISTING SUPPLY of shelf-stable foods with vitally important fresh produce, dairy products, protein and healthy prepared meals.
We don’t spend money on food. We BRIDGE THE GAP between excess food and hunger.
We PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT by diverting good food from landfill.
Why should good food go to waste while people go hungry?
Become a Beneficiary
For more information on applying to become a Power Unit Youth Organization beneficiary, please contact:
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