October 26, 2022

FoodShare’s Social Enterprise

Why a social enterprise?

Much of FoodShare’s programming is funded by donations, grants and sponsorship, but a growing  portion of our revenue comes from the operation of our social enterprise.

A social enterprise sells goods and services while embedding a social, cultural or environmental purpose and reinvests the majority of profits into their social mission. At FoodShare that means investing in food justice work that advances the right to food alongside those most impacted by poverty and food insecurity – Black and Indigenous people, people of colour, people with disabilities and those living on a low income. As we explain in our strategic plan, FoodShare’s goal in running a social enterprise is to achieve diversified revenue to support innovation, allow for nimble responses to opportunities and channels and ensure organizational stability. 

“It helps us weather a rough spot, but it also allows us to direct those funds to what we think is important. Which for us, is our food justice and equity work,” Director of Advocacy and Programs, Katie German explained to The Walrus Lab’s Takara Small in an episode of Bandwidth. “And you don’t have a donor, or funder, or someone weighing in on whether they think that’s appropriate or not. If it’s aligned with your mission and you think it’s good, you have full control over how you want to allocate those dollars,” Katie said. In a nonprofit sector where donor sway has been known to outweigh community needs, the FoodShare team feels strongly that having that flexibility is vital to remaining mission-aligned. [Read more on our Approach to Fundraising].

Shopping with a difference  

FoodShare’s social enterprise includes 3 prongs: kitchen rentals (of FoodShare’s on site commercial kitchen at 120 Industry St.), wholesale produce procurement (for school lunch programs, community programs and small food businesses such as cafes and restaurants) and direct to consumer produce and pantry delivery from our online shop.

Since 2018 our shop has offered a variety of produce boxes (including organic and conventional options), meat boxes, and pantry staples like bread and coffee, with the goal of keeping fresh produce affordable while generating funds to support our food justice programming across the city. “We’re not a large corporation, we’re focussed on people having access to fresh fruit and vegetables. We’re not paying out shareholder dividends or paying for some CEO’s fourth summer home,” Executive Director Paul Taylor told Pay Chen about the FoodShare difference in an interview on Global News 640 Toronto. 

In a lot of instances it’s the folks working in socially conscious settings that get the short end of the stick when it comes to pay and quality work environments. FoodShare aims to combat this with people-first policies that prioritise the well-being of our team and make sure that no one at our food security organization is living below the poverty line. We are a living wage employer, provide all staff no matter their employment status with benefits including wellness and personal days and have a policy of total pay transparency including a maximum ratio of 3:1 between the highest and lowest paid members of our team. 

New products now online 

The team is proud to be packing and delivering a range of new products from emerging and established producers and makers that align with our vision, including: 

How we choose producers and makers – our commitment to social purchasing

As a certified social enterprise, FoodShare is committed to social purchasing. Social purchasing – or social procurement – is a form of sustainable procurement where the purchase of goods and services are targeted towards community-based, diverse social enterprises or similarly-focused suppliers.

Our social enterprise team searches online, at farmers’ markets, and through the grapevine to find products prepared locally (right here in the GTA, Ontario, or Canada) or by other social enterprises, social purpose companies, Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) makers or BIPOC-owned/led companies.

We aim to work with smaller scale producers and partners who are aligned with our values, and when they are larger scale, we like to partner with companies that are living wage employers and environmentally conscientious. From there, products get tested by a panel of FoodShare tasters, and those that get the thumbs up are added to the store. 

We’d love to know what you think of the new products! Reach out to onlineorders@foodshare.net with any feedback.

Shop all of our products and subscribe for regular delivery at goodfoodbox.foodshare.net.