Nfld. & Labrador

Food Rescue on a mission to keep good food out of N.L. landfills

A group that has helped steer millions of pounds of food away from landfills and onto plates is now targeting Newfoundland and Labrador.

Website hooks up food sellers who have surplus or leftovers with non-profits that need it

Leah White of Food Rescue, left, and Kelly Mansell, co-owner of Rocket Bakery are working together to keep good food from being thrown out. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

A group that has helped steer millions of pounds of food away from landfills and onto plates across Canada is now targeting Newfoundland and Labrador.

Food Rescue is an online database that matches people who make food, like restaurants or bakeries, with local non-profit organizations that provide food to people who can't pay for it.

Its mission is to rescue good food that restaurants or bakeries would otherwise throw out at the end of the day.

"To date, [since 2018] over 4.7 million pounds of food has been distributed across Canada, which is about $13.4 million worth of food," said Leah White of Second Harvest, which operates the online platform Food Rescue.

White is Food Rescue's Newfoundland and Labrador head of operations. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

So far, in the less than three months that White has been working in Newfoundland and Labrador, she's found six businesses willing to be food donors to 43 non-profit groups, including the Salvation Army and First Light.

"Very exciting stuff. It's still very much in its infancy here in Newfoundland and Labrador, but I'm very optimistic and I'm going to be working very hard to get this program off the ground," said White.

She describes Food Rescue as a sort of online matchmaker, but for food.

"We are essentially the eHarmony of food," says White.

"We're a matchmaker between a potential donor or business that has food, any kind of good and unsold food, and we match it to non-profit organizations who might have food baskets or any kind of food services within their agencies."

Rocket on board

Rocket Bakery is one of the six businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador that donates food through the program.

Co-owner Kelly Mansell said there are times when the business makes more food than it can sell, and there have been times when they ended up throwing good food in the trash.

"We hate it. All the staff hates throwing food out," she said.

Mansell is one of the owners of Rocket Bakery in St. John's and Mount Pearl. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Mansell said Rocket has tried to find ways to give away leftover food but have found it frustrating, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many organizations are keeping their doors closed and limiting the number of people who can enter.

"It was difficult to get it past the front door, or even knock on a window to talk to anyone. So it was really hard to drop food off," she said.

Mansell said it was easy to get staff at Rocket on board for the Food Rescue program.

"They were thrilled when I announced that we were going to be working with and the kids who work here are right on the website every evening setting up pickups," she said.

"They are right into it. It's the easiest thing I had to implement here at Rocket."

Rocket Bakery says croissants and bread are some of the items it has left over at the end of a day. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Mansell said it's made it a lot easier to redirect good food to non-profit groups that needs it.

"It's a breeze, really," she said.

"We just go online and key in what we have leftover and the time that we want it picked up and it's been claimed really quickly."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

About the Author

Mark Quinn

CBC News

Mark Quinn is a videojournalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.