Five options to buy affordable food in Canada

These apps can help you find groceries and other household items at significant discounts or even free of charge

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A recent report found that one in 10 people in Toronto are relying on food banks, a situation that’s being mirrored in cities across Canada.

“Food banks are at their breaking point,” Ryan Noble, of the North York Harvest Food Bank, and Neil Hetherington, from the Daily Bread Food Bank, wrote in the annual Who’s Hungry report. “Food is a human right, yet governments are failing to ensure every person living in Canada can live a life of dignity.”

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The 79 food banks included in the report have seen an annual increase in usage of more than 50 per cent.

Other studies have found that, on average, food waste costs Canadian families more than $1,300 per year. With so much food ending up in the trash, here are some apps that can help you reduce waste and find last-minute deals.

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Too Good To Go

Founded in Denmark in 2015, Too Good To Go started operating in North America in 2020. The app works by connecting customers to nearby restaurants, cafés and stores that have surplus unsold food. The app is simple to use, allowing users to reserve, pay and set a time to collect their purchases within the app.

Last year, Too Good To Go was rated the fastest-growing sustainable food app startup by number of downloads, serving more than 62 million users. As of March 2023, the app claims to have saved more than 200 million meals from ending up in the trash.

FoodHero

Like Too Good To Go, FoodHero connects consumers with food retailers that have a surplus of fresh food. Whether it’s nearing an expiry date, or not in line with esthetic standards, the app allows users to browse for deals on groceries and prepared foods in their area. Users can purchase the items within the app and pick up the goods from the store at the time indicated.

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FoodHero has partnerships with IGA, Metro, Rachelle-Béry and Marché Tradition, among other retailers. Produce, meat, dairy products, prepared foods, dry goods and specialty items are all available and the app is updated twice daily with new listings. Most items range from 25 to 60 per cent off regular price.

FlashFood

This free app, which works with retailers like Provigo and Maxi, allows users to find discounted food from participating grocery stores, with deals of up to 50 per cent off the regular prices. You can browse and pay within the app using any major credit card or Visa debit. The purchased items can then be picked up from the ‘Flashfood zone‘ at participating stores.

Olio

Olio doesn’t just focus on food. It encourages local communities to share a range of household items, like clothing, furniture and books, before they end up in the trash. It also facilitates the redistribution of unsold food from businesses, with trained volunteers collecting and listing these items for local residents to request and collect.

The app allows users to share items with their communities for free and also has a host of participating retailers, including restaurants and grocery stores. The app had around 7 million registered users as of May 2023.

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Sauvegarde

Headquartered in Montreal, this free app facilitates the sale of surplus food from cafés, bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores at reduced prices. Users can browse discounted food items from several retailers in the Greater Montreal area, including food chains, distributors, grocery store, bakeries and cafés.

The app aligns with Montreal’s goals to reduce food waste by 50 per cent by 2025 and achieve zero waste by 2030. Sauvegarde is available for free on Apple Store and Google Play Store.

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