How This Foundation Uses Tech to Halt Food Waste and Feed the Hungry
When COVID hit and many people lost their jobs, food insecurity became an even bigger problem in Canada than it was before. The Leftovers Foundation, a tech-enabled non-profit at the intersection of food rescue and food access, saw the impact firsthand and rose to the challenge to help feed people in need.
The organization, which connects those who have food to donate and those who need food, has centres in Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, as well as pilot projects in Hinton and Airdrie. “We’re like the Uber Eats of food rescues,” says interim CEO Audra Stevenson. The foundation uses technology to create the most efficient connection points for volunteers and donors—restaurants and grocery stores can log food ready for pick-up, and volunteers can sign up to grab and deliver the donation where it’s needed.
Everything they do is about community and collaboration—their app was even developed by a team of high school students as part of a mentorship program to teach young girls to code. “We really found our stride in implementing our app and that’s just one piece of how tech can make your business better,” says Audra. Because technology is a bedrock of the organization, Leftovers was in need of connections they could trust. That’s why, when the Calgary division moved to a new warehouse space in December, they switched to Shaw Business. “We knew we wanted to go with a bigger, more reliable team,” she says. “It makes everything more streamlined, and reliability is part of our brand promise.”
Another way they streamlined their processes is by selecting the SmartWiFi PRO Bundle, giving the organization access to everything they need to see their foundation thrive. Reliable WiFi is a major part of that efficiency, especially when it comes to organizing pickups at their warehouse.
Having voicemail-to-email was the easiest way to coordinate volunteers and staff. It helped us get packages where they needed to go.
Every Wednesday, nonprofits can sign up to “shop the warehouse,” with one Leftovers coordinator handling the scheduling on site. The program serves up to 50 service agencies in one afternoon, each with their own timeslot. “Without that reliable WiFi, we wouldn't be able to communicate with our partners efficiently, we wouldn’t have efficient sign-up, there would be miscommunication between when to show up and where,” says Audra. Wasted time leads to wasted food—the antithesis of what the organization strives to achieve.
Another aspect of the PRO Bundle is Cyber Protect, which Leftovers uses to ensure the data of their donors and volunteers is safe. “We collect information from food donors, service agencies, and volunteers,” says Audra. “We have a high standard for ensuring everyone’s privacy is protected.” LTE Backup provides that same peace of mind, ensuring their systems never go down.
They also added SmartVoice to their bundle, which proved to be pivotal during times when people needed them the most. “During the height of COVID we were running a fresh food hamper program delivered to people’s doorsteps that required a high level of monitoring, communication, and making sure packages were getting to the right places,” says Audra. “Having voicemail-to-email was the easiest way to coordinate volunteers and staff. It helped us get packages where they needed to go.”
With just 23 staffers and over 300 volunteers across locations, reliable bundled services save precious time for the small team. “We don’t have a full financial team, so when processing payments, having one bill to deal with saves us a lot of administrative work when we’re already strapped for resources and time,” says Audra.
Since switching to Shaw Business in their new headquarters, Audra and her team are dreaming big about what kind of space they can provide for their community in the future. “Our dream for it is to become a nonprofit social impact food space,” says Audra. One where they can provide free meals, affordable groceries, with Shaw Business WiFi for anyone who needs it.
For now, they’re focused on the very important work of making sure that food doesn’t go to waste and people don’t go hungry. “If you have a half hour in your day, you can do a food delivery,” says Audra.
“It’s a really easy accessible way to have an impact because you’re literally delivering food into the hands of people who need it.”