Updated:January 9, 2023, 7:35 P.M.
Lourdes Juan wears many hats—one of them is of a food security activist
By Charmaine Y. Rodriguez
Shocked at how much unsold pieces of bread a bakery in Calgary had before it closed for the day, Lourdes Juan founded Leftovers Foundation in 2012.
Today, the organization works with close to a hundred restaurants, bakeries and groceries in Alberta to keep more than 300,000 pounds of edible food out of landfills every single year by repurposing it through partnerships with local businesses or redirecting excess food to hungry Albertans who need it the most, according to tedxcalgary.ca.
She is also a very successful entrepreneur–an unusual feat for Canadians of Filipino descent. These are just some of Juan’s accomplishments that made her land in the 20 Compelling Calgarians of 2023 list.
Each year, the Calgary Herald honours 20 Calgarians making their mark in our community and beyond who are worth keeping an eye on in the year ahead. Their achievements are significant but are at times outside the public spotlight.
Juan’s accomplishments — entrepreneur, urban planner, tech startup founder, food security activist — are closely tied to the strengths of her tight-knit Filipino-Canadian family, the paper’s article read.
“She (University of Calgary master’s of environmental design) founded her own planning firm, Hive Developments; launched Soma Spa; is founder of Leftovers Foundation — one of Canada’s largest, tech-enabled food rescue charities — and of social enterprise Fresh Routes Inc., a mobile grocery store providing healthy and affordable food,” it added.
In 2019, Lourdes and her team launched Fresh Routes, a social enterprise that creates new ways of providing healthy and affordable food to Canadians including through Calgary’s first mobile grocery store.
In 2022, she started Knead Technologies, an app helping food rescue organizations manage logistics (“the Uber of food rescue”), and is a startup that earned financial backing in 2022’s Alberta Innovates/The51 HerStory pitch competition.
Juan’s family has always lived by a quote from missionary Stephen Grellet, which is pasted inside her grandfather’s old law books: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good . . . I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Her grandfather’s life made a great impact on her and inspired her to do all these things.
“My grandfather, a lawyer in the Philippines, worked as a janitor in Canada (where his legal training was not accepted) to ensure his kids, including my dad, got a university education,” she said in the same article.
Aside from her grandfather, her own parents modeled great work ethic.
Her mother worked three jobs while raising three kids and going to night school while her father ran his own engineering firm specializing in mechanical engineering failure analysis
“So we grew up knowing how things worked. I got that problem-solving hat,” Juan added.
That hat’s won her numerous awards, including the Culbert Family Philanthropy Award from the United Way, the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Award, and a UCalgary Alumni Arch Award, the Calgary Herald added.
The proud 38-year-old mother of a young son, named after her father who died in 2022, has earned funding — after a successful YMCA pilot program — to expand Fresh Routes this year, including a possible bricks-and-mortar outlet, while her logistics app will help food rescue organizations around the world.
And Juan will continue searching for innovative concepts that get “food to people, with dignity,” the article added.