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A Calgary not-for-profit looks to help food security

Hoping to alleviate some of the issues Calgarians face when it comes to food, Zai Mamdani founded YYC Food Security Fund in 2019, a not-for-profit initiative rooted in the principle that there are better, more holistic ways of ensuring equitable food access.

Report cover The Right to Eat Right against a background of fresh produce

New Report Examines Upstream and Downstream Food Security in Calgary and Surrounding Areas

As emergency demand for food access surges, a new report looks at how the city and organizations can address the issue systemically.

Turkey dinner set up

Feeding Calgary families with dignity this holiday season

Partnering with YYC Growers and Fresh Routes, the YYC Food Security Fund is helping give Calgarians the choice to Dine With Dignity™ this holiday season.

The Challenge

Calgary is surrounded by rich farmland, vast grasslands for grazing animals, and greenhouses that soak up our 333 annual days of sunshine.

So you might think our local food chain is stable.

It's not.

So much depends on the success of local producers and growers, which is why the YYC Food Security Fund is dedicated to ensuring their long-term strength by creating deep, long-lasting change in our local food system.

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Dine with Dignity™

Our core belief is centred around empowering people struggling with food access to choose fresh, healthy, local options that are culturally appropriate and in line with their dietary needs.


Our Mission

To create long-term food security for Calgary and surrounding communities by taking a local, integrated and dignity-based approach to addressing issues of equitable food access.

Most Calgarians are aware of food system challenges faced by families in need and by the charities that serve them, but may not be so aware of the challenges faced by the people producing, processing and supplying that food.

We’re working to ensure that producers and farmers are secure and stable enough to supply the nutritious food that communities need.

Here’s how:

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We provide bridge funding so local producers can compete with global players in our marketplaces and consumers can afford to buy fresh local produce.


We connect local food producers and growers with the city’s not-for-profit organizations, opening a stable new source of revenue for producers and reliable sourcing for the groups that support our most vulnerable citizens.


Finally, we work to ensure the stable availability of affordable, locally produced, and easily accessible food for everyone in the Calgary community.

Did you know?

78% of Calgarians say they would like to buy food grown locally.

Getting stocked at a big-chain grocery store can cost a local producer anywhere from $40,000 for certifications, new safety protocols, and other regulations.

11.6% of Calgarians experience food insecurity.


Our Projects

Support The Cause

Project #1 Status:


Partnership with Leftovers Foundation

The fund’s first initiative, executed in the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, partnered with the Leftovers Foundation to redistribute thousands of pounds of food from affected restaurants back into the local economy.

This had overwhelmingly positive effects for producers, nonprofits, displaced hospitality workers who were paid a fair wage to deliver the food, and for the Calgary economy in general.

Estimates are that the YYC Food Security Fund’s initial $10,000 contribution had an eventual $60,000 impact on Calgary’s economy.

Project #2 Status:


The YYC Food Distribution Hub

The YYC Distribution Hub was a pilot project designed to help maintain a reliable pipeline between local food producers and Calgary nonprofits, to the benefit of both. Its goal was to help not-for-profit organizations and agencies (like Calgary Meals on Wheels, YMCA, The Alex Community Food Centre, and Trellis) access fresh, affordable food from Alberta farmers - building community and strengthening our local agriculture sector by compensating food producers at fair market value.

The YYC Food Distribution Hub created a win-win-win system that benefitted local food producers, local nonprofits, and Calgarians in need.

Project #3 Status:

Coming soon

Pay-what-you-want shopping

We are exploring an exciting new pay-what-you-want grocery shopping model with some of the biggest retailers in Calgary. Watch this space and for updates!

Interested in making this project come to life sooner? to be part of a ground-breaking movement that connects producers directly with consumers and the communities that they care about.

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Every donation will be matched up to $75,000 by YYC Food Security Fund founder Zai Mamdani, in addition to covering all administrative costs.

This means that 100% of your donation is invested into empowering every Calgarian to Dine with Dignity™.

All donations to the YYC Food Security Fund will be processed and tax receipts issued through Place2Give Foundation, a registered Canadian charity (833678840RR0001).


Every $1 spent locally has a $6 impact on the Calgary economy!



The Team


Zai Mamdani

Zai Mamdani

A well-known Calgary community activist and philanthropist, is the driving force behind the YYC Food Security Fund.

The YYC Food Distribution Hub is supported and guided by representatives from civic government, major nonprofit organizations, logistics companies, and local producers, using expert knowledge and community connections to create a network built for and by people in the Calgary area.

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Gena Rotstein

Executive Director, Place2Give Foundation

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Arleigh Vasconcellos

Principal, The Agency Marketing & PR


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