Leftovers Foundation: Let’s Rescue Leftover Stampede Food!

The Cause

The Leftovers Foundation is a local registered non-profit organization in Calgary with a mission to eliminate food waste and alleviate hunger. With the help of over 150 volunteers, we rescue approximately 3000 pounds of food a week that would otherwise be thrown away, and redirect it to social service agencies within Calgary. Currently, we pick up from 40 different vendors and deliver the food to 28 different service agencies. This is food that is fresh, edible and still good, but for many reasons, it cannot be sold any longer by the vendors. The vendor and the service agency routes are coordinated by Leftovers to ensure that the food is donated to the appropriate service agency based on the type of food and location. Most routes are regularly scheduled, however a number of routes are ad hoc (or “as needed”) based on the availability of food items from certain vendors. In addition to our food waste diversion efforts, we are currently work with bodies such as the Calgary Board of Education and The City of Calgary Waste & Recycling Services to deal with food scarcity and security among disadvantaged groups and how this relates to food waste issues.

In 2016, we rerouted from Stampede breakfasts and the Midway to the Drop-In Centre and the Alpha House equaling to over 1.4 tons of food. While this was a milestone, this year, we want to reroute more food on a bigger scale. We are planning to collect and reroute food from the Stampede grounds. By strategizing the Stampede grounds, we plan to place 50 food safe storage bins around the grounds for vendors to donate this food to. One tent booth will also be on the grounds to facilitate donations. This will take immense planning with the size of the grounds, the large amount of vendors, coordinating food-safe transportation of the food and having the event being crowded. As we are a non-profit organization running on a solely volunteer hours, we need funding to hire a coordinator who can dedicate greater hours to strategizing this project.

Aside from the hiring of a coordinator, this project will require multiple materials/infrastructure and also transportation of the food. We hope to use funding to cover this as well. For materials/infrastructure, there needs to be multiple large food storage bins for vendors to donate food to and trolleys to transport the food to the bin. For the transportation, we will need to rent food transportation vehicles.

Who Will it Benefit?

Our mass scale food rescue at the Stampede grounds will have a significant effect on the at-risk youth and homeless community. Hundreds of clients at our service agencies including the Drop-In Centre will benefit by having food to eat at the time of the donation. It will also have lasting effects as the food donation can help our service agencies save money towards purchasing food. Overall, Calgarians will benefit, too, with tonnes of food diverted from our landfills.
The community will readily embrace the idea as outside the volunteer hours that are put in, our project requires little effort from the Stampede and Calgary community. Vendors who are donating food will embrace the idea too as the food would likely go to the landfill otherwise and volunteers take care of transporting the food.

There will be a significant ripple effect from our project. As the Stampede is a famous and outdoor event, our project could potentially get covered by multiple media outlets. Our previous Stampede breakfast food-rescue project was covered by the Huffington Post last year. This might inspire other festivals or events to carry out a similar food-rescue project. Especially as Leftovers is trying to pilot other Leftovers programs in other Canadian cities, the success of this Stampede project and it’s media coverage might aid in setting up other Leftovers programs.