We work with area businesses to identify food that would otherwise be thrown away, which can be diverted from the dumpster (or compost bin). Often this is fresh produce, which may be damaged or blemished, prepared food such as steamer trays of catered leftovers, or day-old baked goods. This sort of very-soon-to-expire produce cannot be rescued by larger food banks that use warehouses. We also act as an on-call food rescue organization and pick up unexpected overstocks and overages.
Our donors load this food into our “bins” which are kept at their store. These are large clear plastic bins that are strategically located, typically, between the produce department and the trash. This way, it is actually less work for store and restaurant employees to save food than to throw it away.
Once a day, one of our volunteers rolls up with their bike, loads the food into a bike trailer and hauls it directly to an organization that is scheduled to receive it. We call this “direct just-in-time” food rescue, because it doesn’t require any storage or sorting and the food can be used immediately. In order to prove that such a system can also be sustainable, we do all of the food rescue by bike (excepting cases of extreme weather, extremely large food rescue events, or illness).
The food gets delivered to one of the ~25 organizations we serve, and is typically used within 24-48 hours. We provide food to shelters that serve the homeless, hungry, and at-risk populations, as well as low income elderly housing, working-poor families, and school food programs. We also provide food to special events for charities on occasion and provide some food to pay-what-you-can meals, and low income housing cooperatives.