Lourdes Juan | Calgary’s Food & Hospitality Game-Changers 2024

The prolific food-security advocate is scaling up her food waste-recovery efforts with a new tech startup that provides a platform for food reuse anywhere in the world.

Photo by Steve Collins.

As the founder of organizations like the Leftovers Foundation and Fresh Routes, Lourdes Juan has been a champion of food security for years. Looking back, she says salvaging perishable food was often met with incredulity or disbelief a decade ago, but, today, communities are more willing to save food at the organizational level.

That’s why Juan has combined her passion for reducing food waste with her innovative approach to community-building in the form of Knead Technologies, a tech startup incorporated in 2022 that provides food recovery organizations with a platform to facilitate turning food waste into food reuse. Early adopters of Knead have already participated in pilot projects around the world, including in Alberta, Montreal, Hawaii and California in 2023.

“Perishable food can’t wait,” says Juan. “And folks who are hungry also can’t wait, and so I thought: Let’s just go for it.”

While the platform is meant to scale and be used anywhere around the world, Juan says one of the biggest challenges has been raising funds to put technology in action, citing that only approximately two per cent of venture funding goes to women, and less than two per cent to BIPOC startup entrepreneurs. “When you hear this statistic, it’s one thing; but then when you are that statistic, it really hits you in a different way,” she says.

But that’s what partially fuels her motivation, along with her belief that Calgary was the right choice for a place to start Knead. “What is unique about Calgary that I really love — and I’m just Calgary’s biggest booster — is the love for rallying around social impact ventures,” she says.

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This article appears in the March 2024 issue of Avenue Calgary.

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