Updated: Feb 25, 2021
By: Diane L.M. Cook
In 2019, the City of Calgary found that food waste, including scraps, mouldy food, and food still in the package, accounted for 30 per cent of the city’s garbage cart contents.(1) Preventing this food from being thrown away can help combat food insecurity and create a more sustainable food system within the city.
The National Zero Waste Council created a strategy to help businesses and individuals prevent food waste. The strategy included a three-phase approach: reduce, recover, and recycle. Under the “recover” phase, safe and nutritious, surplus food can be recovered from the food production, distribution, and retail chains and redistributed where it’s needed.(2)
GOAT Generation, a Calgary company named for the acronym “Greatest Of All Time,” developed the GOAT Share app to launch this recovery initiative into action. Ivonne Gamboa, who founded the company in 2018, created the app to help Calgary and the surrounding area combat food waste by recovering food from local businesses.
The GOAT Share app connects local businesses (“sellers”) that have surplus food to local people (“buyers”) looking for deals. Sellers are businesses that want to give away or sell the surplus food that they would typically have to throw away. These businesses include convenience stores, grocery stores, restaurants, delis, catering businesses, and farmers’ markets. Buyers are people who want to get free food or purchase affordable, nutritious meals.
By making this direct connection between sellers and buyers, the app avoids the costs and regulations associated with the transportation, storage, and distribution of surplus food that are often very cumbersome. Gamboa says, “To recover the most amount of surplus food, we believe it is always better to simplify processes rather than to add more steps and players.”
Users can download the GOAT Generation app from Google Play or the Apple Store for free. Once downloaded, users are able to see sellers offering food for free or at a discounted price. For example, if a coffee shop has a surplus of sandwiches left over two hours before the shop closes, the business might use the app as a way to avoid throwing away the food at the end of the day. The barista has three options: she can choose to sell the sandwiches at a discount, earning back some of the money that would have been lost had the sandwiches been thrown in the garbage; she can offer the sandwiches for free; or she can choose to donate the money from the sale of the sandwiches to one of GOAT Generation’s partner charities—Brown Bagging for Calgary Kids, Leftovers Foundation, or Immigrant Services Calgary. The barista then selects pick up times so buyers know when to collect their food at the coffee shop before it closes.
Buyers can search a wide selection of free or very reasonably priced food, pay for their food through the app, and then confirm their pick up time at the seller’s location. The type of food offered to buyers includes fruits and vegetables, desserts, prepackaged snacks, prepackaged meal boxes, frozen prepackaged food, prepared food, and “grab and go” food.
The more food that can be recovered, the more food insecurity can be reduced, and a more sustainable food system can be maintained. Gamboa believes that “being a GOAT is about being socially conscious and offering a sustainable solution to recover surplus food and reduce food waste while supporting communities, protecting the environment, and helping people who are less fortunate.” She considers app users to be GOATs, because they are the “greatest” for helping to recover food waste.
For more information on food loss and waste explore our Nourishing Minds publications here.
1 The City of Calgary—What’s in Calgary’s Black Carts?
2 National Zero Waste Council—A Food Loss and Waste Strategy for Canada, 2018