Boulder Food Rescue aims to create a more just and less wasteful food system. We facilitate the sustainable redistribution of healthy food that would otherwise be wasted to low-income communities, by bicycle. We work with communities to facilitate their own food redistribution and create decentralized systems to bypass barriers to food access. Our work envisions a world in which everyone has equitable access to healthy food.
HISTORY: Boulder Food Rescue (BFR) was developed in 2011 by Caleb Phillips, Becky Higbee, Nora Lecesse, Helen Katich, and Hayden Dansky. In University of Colorado research conducted by two of BFR’s five founding members, they discovered that enough food is thrown away to feed everyone experiencing food insecurity in Boulder county.
In discussions with grocery stores about this finding, we learned that a significant amount of food was considered too perishable to be donated through traditional food banking. Specifically, in the time it takes for food to be picked up, taken to a warehouse, sorted, then redistributed, the most perishable items, particularly produce, become inedible. BFR was formed to provide direct delivery of produce, using a decentralized model. Delivery was established by bicycle in order to make deliveries environmentally sustainable. Co-founders spent time talking to members of the community receiving food at a meal in the park, via the name Food Not Bombs. Their feedback was that BFR food was the healthiest food they got all week and that the meal felt different because everyone sat down and ate together. This resulted in two core values: (1) improving health equity outcomes by distributing healthy, fresh produce and (2) implementing participatory, community-led structures. Program participants continue to lead and run food distribution, creating systems that work for their communities.
Originally, most recipients of BFR food were traditional food access agencies. We soon found that many individuals are faced with barriers to accessing these agencies, including transportation to distribution sites, limited hours of operation, gatekeeping paperwork to access resources, lack of culturally relevant and healthy food, and social stigma associated with using these programs. BFR created No Cost Grocery Programs (NCGPs) to remove as many of these barriers as possible. We deliver food to people in easy-to-access places such as the affordable housing communities they live in or the schools and daycares they attend. From there, food is distributed across the community by Grocery Program Coordinators (GPCs), community members who lead the food distribution. These programs have become the central focus of BFR.