Calgary organization combats food waste with an edible rescue mission
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When Lourdes Juan walked into Cobs Bread two years ago, she was met with approximately 150 pounds of food that would have been tossed in the garbage if she wasn’t there to collect it.
She came to help her cousin collect food donations for his church, but ended up leaving with more than just the bread – she had an idea.
“It was like finding out the world is round,” said Juan. “You can’t look at it as flat anymore. It was great the Cobs was doing this, but I knew it had to be done on a bigger scale.”
She soon launched LeftOvers, a volunteer organization that rescues food and brings it to service agencies including the Calgary Drop-In Centre, the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank and Alpha House.
Juan said the statistics surrounding food waste in North America are “alarming.” One third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted globally, amounting to 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost per year, according the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
“It’s just such a shame when you see perfectly good food go in the garbage,” she said. “It’s a principal you learn from your grandfathers and grandmothers: don’t waste your food.”
Since LeftOvers began their rescue mission two years ago, volunteers have collected over 17,500 lbs of bread, pastries and produce from Calgary businesses.
Nicole Chan, 23, began volunteering for LeftOvers in December. On her weekly route she said she often collects 32 pounds of bread that would otherwise be left to the landfills.
“As consumers, we expect everything to be fresh, so we’re not going to by day old bread from Cobs, it’s just not something we do,” said Chan. “But we don’t think about where the food that isn’t bought goes. It’s a big problem. It feels good to know that you’re giving it to people who need it.”