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Vancouver Food Runners: A Fight Against Hunger and Food Waste in Vancouver

Vancouver food runners volunteers picking up fresh produce to redistribute it to local charities donating food to the food insecure

UpMeals is proud to announce its partnership with Vancouver Food Runners, a non-profit organization on a mission to redirect food surplus to those in need. This partnership will support UpMeals’ commitment to sustainability and will make sure any unused food nearing its expiry date will be safely delivered to communities in need. 

40% of all food produced is wasted or lost, while one in nine households in British Columbia is food insecure. Vancouver Food Runners’ mission is to respond to this unfortunate disconnect and raise awareness about food insecurity in Vancouver. Through their technology, logistics, and volunteer model, they aim to fight hunger and promote sustainability by preventing perfectly healthy food from entering the waste stream and directly distributing it to organizations working with the food-insecure.

The groundwork for Vancouver Food Runners was laid in 2019 but was not yet launched. When COVID-19 hit in March, they quickly mobilized and started matching surplus food from businesses to community partners working with the food insecure. 

“Drew Munro, UpMeals’ CEO and co-founder was among the first business owners to reach out to us about collecting surplus food from his business. His enthusiasm and support for our food recovery program, as well as his commitment to ensuring that his businesses’ surplus food is redirected to those in need, is both encouraging and inspiring. Drew and his team are truly at the forefront of a movement to change how we think about and use surplus food to help our community and the environment.”
Michelle Reining, Vancouver Food Runners Program Director

“Finding ways to safely repurpose surplus food from our operations had always been a challenge for us. Partnering with the Vancouver Food Runners program has solved this critical problem and allowed us to thoughtfully repurpose food that would otherwise be wasted. Michelle, Tristan, and the Vancouver Food Runner’s team are providing an incredibly essential service in our local food economy and we’re proud to partner with them.”
Drew Munro, Co-Founder & CEO, UpMeals

Since the launch of Vancouver Food Runners in March 2020, they have grown rapidly. In seven months, over 260 volunteers have been able to collect and distribute over 153,757 pounds of food (128,130 meals) to the most vulnerable members of our community. They now have over 80 food donors and over 30 community partners, including the YWCA, Covenant House, Atira Women’s Resource Society, City Reach Care Society, Directions Youth Services, KidSafe Project, Lookout Housing and Health Society, Boys and Girls Clubs, and many more.

A big player in Vancouver Food Runners’ speedy growth is their use of technology as well as their committed volunteers. Traditional models of excess food distribution rely on trucks and storage facilities, which are cost prohibitive. In response to this challenge, their innovative Food Rescue Hero app is an end-to-end system that matches food donors and nonprofit beneficiaries, and mobilizes a community of volunteers to efficiently and cost-effectively transport food between locations. Once there is a match between a food donation and a nonprofit partner that would like to receive it, the app alerts nearby volunteers of the available “rescue” opportunity. The app guides volunteers through the rescue, providing built-in navigation and delivery verification, so volunteers can easily complete their rescue and help raise awareness about food insecurity in Vancouver.

Learn more about our sustainability practice.

Check out this CTV News publication showcasing the work that Vancouver Food Runners is doing for our local community!”

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