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Medcan Inspires: Cecilia Crisostomo

From foodie to food insecurity advocate, how one woman is helping to make healthy food more affordable and reduce food waste.

When she was a child, Cecilia Crisostomo’s parents volunteered for a variety of community organizations. After a day spent volunteering, her parents—both Filipino immigrants—would return home and spend family dinner recounting tales of the various people they’d met. “It kept the perspective of our own lives in check, and reminded us we had so much to be grateful for,” recalls Crisostomo, one of Medcan’s 2022 heroes. Her love for social enterprise and her love for food intertwine in her work as head of success (Canada) for the app, Too Good To Go. “To me, food has always been the heart of everything.

The app, founded in France in 2016, is now available in 17 countries and allows local restaurants, shops and businesses with extra food–that would otherwise be thrown away–to sell it at a reduced rate. The result? Healthy food that’s more affordable to those who could otherwise not afford it, coupled with the reduction of food waste.

In Canada, we’re so concerned about eating food before the best before date,” says Crisostomo. “The second an apple is bruised, we’re like, ‘It’s no good.’ It’s such a missed opportunity—and a waste of money.

Eating healthfully can be more expensive than eating processed or fast food. Organic food can command a price premium 20% to 60% higher than conventional versions. So, while it’s easy to say we should all eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, the cost can be prohibitive for many—especially the 3.8 million Canadians living in poverty. Worse, Canada’s 2021 Food Price Report predicts that food prices will rise 5% to 7% in 2022. That’s an extra $966 for the typical yearly family grocery bill, according to a recent CBC article.

Crisostomo knows that her family is extremely lucky to be able to eat healthy food on a regular basis. “Not everyone lives the way we do,” she says, which is why she’s chosen to focus her career on helping others to live better. And this is not a case of food scarcity—food is abundant yet it’s going to waste.

According to 2020 research, nearly 60% of the food produced in Canada is wasted. That’s 11.2 million metric tonnes: enough to feed everyone in the country for five months. Worse, the decomposition of this food is responsible for 8% of human-originated greenhouse gas emissions, nearly the same amount as what is created by global road transport.

That’s where the Too Good to Go app comes in. Since launching in Canada in July 2021, the app has redirected more than 20,000 meals away from landfills.

Those numbers inspire Crisostomo every day and keep her invested in the work. “Yes, food is fuel,” she says. “But culturally, it reflects who we are and how we serve one another, [and] how we connect… No matter what culture you look at, there’s a story or a reflection of who they are through the food that they eat, and how they consume it.

Do you know someone who deserves recognition for their contribution to the wellness of our community? Send us your Medcan Inspires nomination at inspires@medcan.com.

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