Seven years ago, Tony Colley found himself food insecure. Despite a former, long career in corporate finance, a failed business venture left him with only a few hundred dollars to his name while living in Toronto.
Colley eventually landed a part-time job for a local catering company, in which he quickly noticed just how much food was wasted at the end of the day.
Knowing first-hand what it’s like to struggle for one’s next meal, Colley began brewing ideas to divert the waste while assisting those in need.
The manager at the catering company allowed Colley to take home the surplus food. Colley would save some meals for himself and donate the rest to a nearby shelter. He began donating food so frequently, that he soon saw an opportunity to build a more circular solution to surplus food recovery.
He began researching similar solutions in the greater Toronto market, such as food donation hubs like Second Harvest and Flash Food. But he quickly noticed there was a gap when it came to prepared meals, as well as immediate deliveries.
“There has to be a solution,” said Colley. “Uber Eats is moving prepared food around the city from retailer to consumer, why can’t we take that same concept and apply it to surplus food specifically?”
Uber Eats-style solution
Thus, in 2019, B12Give came to fruition, an on-demand, same-day pickup, surplus food delivery system that today has diverted enough waste to feed 25,000 people.
Colley looked to business types that often have extra prepared food left over. “Grocery stores, hotels, convention centers, universities, malls, you name it, they had it,” he said.
Wanting to build a tech stack to support the on-demand initiative, Colley hired an app developer so businesses could notify B12Give when they had extra food.
How it works: Upon arrival, a delivery personnel will pack the extra food up, weigh it and enter the weight into the app. The order is scanned via a QR code to indicate order completion before it’s delivered to a shelter or community partner.
The service runs from 3 p.m. to midnight. B12Give leverages an electric bike company called Nrbi and Enterprise Car Share, which gives drivers access to vehicles across the city at over 100 stations.
Another key component of B12Give is combatting the waste footprint of businesses.
About 58 percent of all food produced in Canada is wasted each year, totaling $49 billion in food waste, according to Second Harvest.
The B12 app provides an impact page that shows retailers how many pounds of food are collected, the number of people it will serve and how much methane gas is diverted, by preventing the waste from entering a landfill. The app also categorizes the food and provides data so businesses know exactly where the majority of their waste accumulates.
“Hopefully this allows them [businesses] to reduce their costs earlier in the supply chain by purchasing less,” said Colley.
Since its inception, B12Give has diverted over 35,000 pounds of food waste which amounts to 133,000 pounds of methane gas diverted.
The bigger picture
Surplus meals are delivered to various organizations, from charities, shelters and group homes, most recently assisting an uptick in refugees in Toronto.
Colley relays that the service is also intended to serve the greater community. Reflecting on his experience he adds, “I wasn’t in a shelter system, I had a job, clothes on my back, a bed to sleep in, but I didn’t have food in the fridge…I know there are millions of people out there in the exact same situation.”
Looking ahead, Colley has a vision of implementing a form of “meals on wheels” home delivery service to combat that gap. He also has his eyes set on further growth with lofty goals to go global, operating in third-world countries.
“There are high-end hotels and resorts in these countries that are cooking food for their guests every day and at the end of the day, so much food ends up in the garbage,” he said.
“So, my goal is to be the Uber Eats of surplus food on a global scale, and we’re aiming to do that one meal at a time.”
To learn more about B12Give visit https://www.b12give.ca/