As part of our series Spotlight: Youth Food Leaders and COVID-19, Abinethaa from TYFPC spoke with Veronica from Second Harvest about the organization’s programming during COVID-19, their new FoodRescue.ca application and website, and discussed about what food justice means to her.
You can view the interview below and on our Instagram (@toyouthfoodpolicy), or keep scrolling to read the full interview transcript below.
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Abi starts by asking Veronica if she’s ready to answer some questions about COVID-19 and the food system. Veronica enthusiastically responds, “I’m ready!”
Abi: Awesome. Can you first introduce your organization and the work you do?
Veronica: Yep! I work for Second Harvest, and we work to get good food to those who need it as opposed to letting that good food get wasted across the supply chain. So from farmer to retailer to even people in the home. We try to educate them and reduce food waste! My role is the senior manager of foodrescue.ca, so I oversee our app that connects donors and nonprofits digitally to rescue their food.
Abi: Nice, and as manager, what are your main responsibilities?
Veronica: As I mentioned, I oversee the actual development of our food rescue application. We have both a web and mobile version. As an added bonus, lately I’m guiding our surplus food rescue program which is something started by the federal government. Under this program and this funding, we built a national logistics network to purchase food from suppliers [which helps] feeding back opportunities into the supply chain, the economy. And then that purchased food is brought to organizations in need across Canada.
Abi: How has your organization adapted to COVID-19?
Veronica: Well, we went national. We were in primarily an Ontario based organization prior to COVID and we went national. We’re building a logistics network, we’re moving to a new warehouse because we need to rescue more food, so there’s been some big changes at Second Harvest.
Abi: As a result of COVID-19, are there any programs or interventions that have been implemented?
Veronica: There’s a lot of safety protocol. Going national and building a food rescue infrastructure network nationally is new because of COVID-19. We’re really focusing on food safety this year and building out that knowledge base within our non-profit network, especially when you have the added challenge of a global pandemic. Making sure that all of the safety pieces are met by our partners.
Abi: Has there been more or less demand from the public?
Veronica: More. Much more. So many people are out of work and the need for food is really high. As well, restaurants and businesses further down the supply chain have closed so there’s all this extra food that was produced and really needs a home. So our work is needed just as much, if not a lot more these days.
Abi: Yes, for sure. And in terms of the sense of community – now that you work at home and all, how has this shifted between Second Harvest and you donors or Second Harvest employees? Your coworkers who are now your family members and your pets, how has that changed?
Veronica: Well for our donors and our nonprofits who are receiving the food, a major shift is that it’s a lot easier to get them on video calls! Everyone is so good at video calling [now] and because we have a very wide net to cast, we have to reach very remote areas, sometimes that’s the only option! So that’s been really nice.
Abi: Nice, wow. Lastly, what does food justice mean to you?
Veronica: I’d say, to sum it up very simply: it’s the equal opportunity for everyone to access food and employment and the salaries and education and funds to purchase the food that they need across all food systems.
Abi: Perfect. Thank you so much Veronica! It’s always a pleasure talking to you. Bye for now!