Franchising in Your CommunitySeptember/October 2022

Giving Back: Harvesting Goodness

KFC Canada’s Harvest Program is challenging food insecurity and promoting sustainability across Canada

By Daniel McIntosh

At the end of the day in any restaurant or food service establishment comes the harrowing issue of disposal. In many cases, all the leftover, unsold product is simply thrown away, despite still being perfectly edible, which can lead to clogged-up landfills, wasted food, and further carbon emissions. KFC Canada has some ideas to mitigate that.

Since 2016, KFC Canada’s Harvest program has been committed to donating surplus chicken to local charities across Canada, in addition to the other community initiatives they support on the local franchisee level.

“Giving back has been engrained in KFC’s DNA,” says Catherine TanGillespie, the president and general manager of KFC Canada. “The Colonel helped people wherever he went, and we are ensuring this tradition stays alive in Canada through Harvest.” Since the program launched in 2016, KFC has donated more than $292,000 worth of food to 244 charities across Canada.

The effort toward curbing food waste doesn’t just start in the restaurants. KFC also addresses the issue at the supply level, only purchasing as much food as it expects to sell based on daily projections.

“In situations where we find ourselves with surplus chicken, donating to those in need helps us recover the product and reduce our carbon emissions, while also helping those in need,” says Tan-Gillespie.

Beyond food waste, KFC Canada also supports social purposes in franchisee communities. The corporate team always welcomes franchisees to contribute to local charities. In the past, partners have contributed to Breakfast Programs of Canada, Skylark Mental Health Foundation in Ontario, and children’s hospitals in their respective territories, further emphasizing good social purpose at all levels of the franchise.

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, and food bank use continued to increase, the Harvest program donations went from KFC only giving out chicken on the bone to sending out wider menu options, including sandwiches, lettuce, and tomatoes, ensuring “every morsel of food goes to our people and our communities.” That year, 85,042 pounds of food was donated to charities across Canada.

The pandemic also inspired further action, as KFC Canada urged customers to consider food insecurity through its One Bucket, One Meal initiative. The brand donated one meal for every bucket sold to Food Banks Canada, raising 200,000 meals for those in need in just a week. KFC Canada extended its work to 2021’s holiday season, where they sold holiday sweaters with 100 per cent of proceeds going to Food Banks Canada.

It’s all part of KFC’s plan to provide more than finger lickin’ good chicken. “We’re also dreamers who are determined to make a positive impact in any way we can,” says Tan-Gillespie. “Everything we do at KFC ladders up to the values that built this brand — our values around our food, our people, and our planet.”

With more than 23,000 restaurants across 140 countries, KFC commands a global presence that puts it at the forefront of development in food systems. Its charitable operations set an example for other franchises to follow. It’s part of what earned the brand the Canadian Franchise Association (CFA)’s Outstanding Corporate Citizen Recognition Award in 2022.

Tan-Gillespie says that KFC Canada is committed to expanding its charitable programming in the future. In fact, KFC is continually rolling out more social purpose programs committed to becoming a net-zero business at all levels, from corporate staff to franchisees and restaurant teams. “Our motto is that we are dedicated to feeding people, not landfills,” she concludes. “It’s a win-win.”