LeftOvers – Winning the War on Food Waste

LeftOvers originated from a simple concept of rescuing food destined for landfill that could be put to better use feeding those struggling with the rising cost of living in Calgary.

Over a third of food produced worldwide is trashed.

Food waste is a global issue, and tackling it is a priority. The difficulty is often in knowing where to start and how to make the biggest economic and environmental savings. The food discarded by retailers and consumers in the most developed countries would be more than enough to feed all of the world’s 870 million hungry people, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Along  with the environmental impacts of food waste such as water and fertilizer consumption, to fuel and energy used for transport, to the inevitability of food decaying in landfills and emitting methane. Food waste is not only a social cost, but it contributes to growing environmental problems like climate change, experts say, with the production of food consuming vast quantities of water, fertilizer and land. The fuel that is burned to process, refrigerate and transport it also adds to the environmental cost.

Most food waste is thrown away in landfills, where it decomposes and emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Globally, it creates 3.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases annually, about 7 percent of the total emissions, according to the report.

The United Nations agency points out that methane gas from the world’s landfills are surpassed in emissions by only China and the United States.

LeftOvers is an organization that rescues food from being thrown in the garbage, and ensures it is delivered to service agencies in need. In Calgary approximately 23,000 households live in poverty (with income less than $20,000 and spending more than 50% of their income on shelter). Delivering perishable food that would otherwise be thrown away, alleviates pressures from the service agencies and households below the poverty line.

In the past year, more than a third of the 1,300 food banks surveyed by Food Banks Canada cut the amount of sustenance doled out to the country’s most needy because their supplies fell short. Calgary’s food bank says the province sees a fairly steady flow of donations, but is hard hit during the cold winter months, particularly in March as people try and stretch their dollars a bit further to cover heating.

The need for food banks across Canada remains 23 per cent higher than before the recession of 2008, which equals an increase of 157,000 people.

These past years, Calgary stood out as an anomaly. Among the hardest hit provinces in the past years has been Alberta and Manitoba, which saw their need increase by nearly 50 per cent. Those rises in demand have left food banks scrambling to cope.

 

LeftOvers is a team of 70 volunteers who choose routes each week and drive food around Calgary to ensure it is consumed and diverted from landfills. If you have a few spare ours a week, please contact us and become part of the team.

Like what we’re doing? Want to share your story or tell others? Do you have a green business in Calgary and want to get in front of a large local audience? Let’s build a green community together!