Food Banks Canada is one step closer to creating an app that connects farmers, manufacturers, grocers and food banks with the goal of reducing food waste across the country. After submitting its FoodAccess App idea to the Google.org Impact Challenge, a national competition to fund innovative ideas that tackle social problems, the idea was selected as one of 10 finalists, beating out more than 900 projects from other Canadian non-profits.
“We know there’s an abundance of food in Canada, yet 860,000 people are helped by a food bank every month,” says Marzena Gersho, director of communications and national programs at Food Banks Canada. “We also estimate that $15 billion worth of food is wasted through the food value chain outside the home, from farm and transport all the way through to retail.”
To help address the problem, the FoodAccess App will provide a network where all food providers and retailers can connect. Gersho describes it as an easy-to-use “Craigslist type of opportunity” where a grocer can post a note about an available food package and the first to express interest can pick it up. “We know there are stores already donating to food banks, but not all of them donate. This could be an easy, cost-effective way to engage smaller grocers,” she says.
By way of the Impact Challenge, Google.org, the charitable arm of Google, travels to different parts of the world to support non-profit innovators who use technology. This marks Google.org’s first competition in Canada. “This is a country with a talent for innovation and a culture of helping others, and we knew that we would get some bold and smart ideas from Canadian non-profits,” says Nicole Bell, public affairs manager
at Google Canada.
Google.org is donating a total of $5 million in grants to the 10 finalists, to contribute to the development of the projects. Then, five of the finalists will each be awarded a $750,000 prize, with the remaining finalists receiving $250,000 each. All finalists will also get hands-on support for a full year. For Bell, the goal of the Impact Challenge is clear: “We want to see all of these incredible projects come to life and make an impact.”
This article originally appeared in Canadian Grocer‘s April/May 2017 issue.