Lori Nikkel

“There's more than enough food to feed everybody, so it's just a matter of making that connection.”


Lori Nikkel is the CEO of Canada’s largest food rescue organization, Second Harvest. She ensures that over 15 million pounds of surplus, nutritious foods--dairy, protein and produce--are diverted from landfills to non-profit organizations each year.

Lori has used digital technology and human connections in addition to leveraging third party logistics, storage and distribution centers to increase access to healthy foods  during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the first few weeks of COVID-19 where there was nothing in the grocery stores, every Canadian, in that moment, was feeling really food insecure and very scared,” Lori says. “Managing the fear was probably the most important part – explaining to people that the supply chain is fine.”

Lori realized that, with many businesses shutting down, Canada would soon see a huge spike in surplus food, but also a rise in people who could not afford, or otherwise gain access to, enough nutritious food.

Lori launched the Food Rescue Canadian Alliance, a national task force with members from government and the food industry, as well as Indigenous and non-profit leaders, to ensure that supply could meet demand without over-saturating the charitable sector with surplus commodities like potatoes.

To coordinate the increased effort, Lori scaled-up FoodRescue.ca, Second Harvest’s online platform, which allows businesses to donate surplus foods to social service agencies, schools and food banks in their communities, expanding its reach from two provinces to the whole country.

The stepped up action following the onset of COVID-19 helped to rescue more than 9.8 million pounds of surplus food between mid-March and late June 2020.

A study led by Second Harvest in 2019 found that 58 percent of all food produced in Canada is lost or wasted annually and that 32 percent of it (11.2 million metric tonnes) could have been rescued and eaten.

This food hero is working with numerous partners around the country to cut food waste and improve food security.