A couple of food rescue couriers, Kenny and Ezra, take us on a food rescue shift from Sprouts in the Village Shopping Center to a No Cost Grocery Program at the Canyon Point community.
Boulder Food Rescue just released a Participation Framework!
After several years of conducting participatory research on participation in food systems, we wrote this framework to help nonprofits look at their own internal systems and change structures to allow for the people they work with to have a voice at many levels of the organization.
It goes beyond the basics (which are still often lacking – does your meeting have childcare? food? transportation? what language is it in? what time and day is it?) to really seeing how internal structures (and often a time capacity) leave out integral voices needed to make an organization thrive. We believe food access is contingent on breaking down traditional systems of charity work and lines between who is serving and who is being served.
Although focused on food access, this guide is written to support all nonprofits and other human service organizations to analyze their own systems and to better understand how they can become more participatory. We believe that as we all start including the voices of people most affected by our work in the work, access to services will increase, and ultimately, people will feel more affirmed and respected, and will be better supported and resourced towards enacting community change.
It is in English and Spanish and available to download here. Feel free to share with your networks!
We will also be creating a toolkit, hosting a series of workshops, and publishing a report on food access in the upcoming months, so stay tuned!
Boulder Food Rescue last month notched a new milestone: The nonprofit has redistributed 3 million pounds of food since its founding in 2011.
Volunteers, the majority of them traveling on bikes, ferry perishable food and particularly fresh fruits and vegetables from grocery stores to nonprofits and dozens of sites. At many of those sites, grocery program coordinator volunteers distribute the food to their neighbors. The nonprofit, through the work of nine staffers and about 150 volunteers, now recovers about 1,500 pounds of food per day that would otherwise be wasted.
“It feels pretty amazing,” said executive director Hayden Dansky. “I think it goes to show that we have grown and that we have big impact in this community. It’s worth celebrating for sure.”
Boulder Food Rescue staff believes people have the right to access healthy and nutritious food, regardless of their socioeconomic status, Dansky said. The way the program is structured helps them deliver perishable foods to people in the community.
“That’s our main focus,” Dansky said. “We want to distribute healthy food that’s harder to obtain if you’re living with lower income.”
The nonprofit last year launched a program called Fresh Food Connect, which allows home gardeners to donate produce from their homes and community gardens, too. Although more than 90% of the nonprofit’s donations come from grocers, Dansky said, this program allows them to diversify Boulder Food Rescue sources, invite more community members to participate and secure fresher produce.
“It is smaller scale,” Dansky said. “The reason it’s of interest is because it creates a diversity in terms of sourcing food donations, and it also allows us to decentralize both our food sourcing and our food distribution.”
On Monday, Sunny Shaughnessy and Nirja Meeker were among the volunteers helping to distribute food at Mapleton Mobile Home Park, one the Boulder Food Rescue’s sites. Both are residents who volunteer to help their neighbors access more fresh produce. They pick up the produce from Sprouts and bring it to a central location in the neighborhood. Delivery days are Saturdays and Mondays.
Tables in the community’s wash house on Monday were stacked with heads of lettuce, containers of kale and boxes of bell peppers, strawberries and pears.
“Food is a basic right, as far as I’m concerned,” Meeker said of her decision to volunteer.
Shaughnessy said that, sometimes, residents come ahead of a delivery to sit together, talk and meet new neighbors.
“They wouldn’t have met each other before,” she said. “It’s great.”
Meeker added that, through Boulder Food Rescue, people try new vegetables they would not have otherwise spent money on or felt brave enough to try.
“People are swapping recipes,” she said. “They’re trying to figure out what in the heck that thing is. It’s been a community builder that way, and it’s really added to peoples’ diets as well.”
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Spiral-bound community cookbooks dish usable recipes in the digital age
If you have a recipe you cherish, one that you’ve saved because you know it works, chances are you didn’t find it in The Joy of Cooking, Julia Child’s volumes or any of the food sections I’ve edited since 1985. You might have gotten it from a relative but they probably found it in the most common recipe source for American home cooks for decades: spiral-bound community cookbooks. I have some of my mother’s recipes because she contributed them to community cookbooks when I was a kid.
Spiral-bound matters a lot because those books lie flat on the counter when you are cooking. I have hardbound cookbooks that I have to use a 5-pound hand weight to hold open.
Over the years I’ve collected every community cookbook that has come my way, mostly from the Boulder area but also from across Colorado. Many were efforts to raise money for hospitals, diseases, churches, schools and other causes, and the recipes came largely from women.
The recipe names are often very plain or attributed to a relative. I have Mother Barbara’s Rice Casserole in a collection of recipes from the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center in 1987, Shirley Crowfoot’s Concord Grape Pie in the Shakespeare Festival’s 1998 cookbook, and my very own Happy Family Grilled Salad included in Meals on Wheels’ 1991 Tastefully Boulder.
Eventually, I’ll donate the collection to a museum because the recipes represent valuable historical documentation unavailable elsewhere. They tell you who was cooking and how they actually cooked at the time versus a historian’s account.
There used to be dozens of these books available in the Boulder area, but they have virtually disappeared. They’ve been replaced by digital equivalents like allrecipes.com, where the recipe of the day on June 11 was Skinny Broccoli Mac and Cheese. Fewer people have cookbooks and recipes that they own. They, like me, simply Google “marinara.”
However, I’m happy to have a new addition, the wonderful new Boulder Food Rescue Recipe Book. The collection features 55 recipes in English using fresh produce items saved by Boulder Food Rescue (BFR) from stores and delivered by bicycle to the community. Flip the book over and it’s the same recipes in Spanish.
The recipes come from BFR staff and members, and staff of Boulder Housing Partners, which organizes food redistribution in its network of housing units, food pantries and preschools, such as New Horizons and the Family Learning Center. Among the participants are recent immigrants from Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica and Morocco.
It’s one thing to collect still edible produce from eager donors like Lucky’s Market or Alfalfa’s Market. It’s quite another to figure out how to turn a case of fresh eggplant, kale, zucchini, leeks, Swiss chard, artichokes or beets into dinner tonight.
“We don’t control the produce we receive. We sometimes get high quantities of vegetables and fruits that are not common in certain cultures,” says Hayden Dansky, executive director of BFR.
Dansky says the recipes in this collection are, in part, the answers the cooks devised and were passing among themselves. The just-released volume features tested recipes for everything from Spicy Roasted Fennel and Carrots to Potato Salad with Chicken to Green Plantain Ceviche. The dessert section includes Chocolate Zucchini Squares and Mango and Strawberry Smoothies. There are classics like the Tomatillo Salsa from Jesus Rosales, which uses fresh jalapeno, avocado, cilantro, white onion and garlic.
The Boulder Food Rescue Recipe Book is available to the public and ideal for any cook that is trying to use more fresh produce or is facing similar vegetable dilemmas as a member of a local farm CSA. The nonprofit organization is accepting donations on a suggested sliding scale of $25 to $45. For ordering information: boulderfoodrescue.org/recipebooklaunch.
If your Boulder or Colorado organization still offers a printed, spiral-bound recipe collection, let me know at: [email protected]
By: Devon Reynolds
If you haven’t checked out the Boulder Food Waste Audit yet, now’s your moment! It’s a study released by the Boulder Food Rescue (BFR) in collaboration with researchers at CU Boulder. It investigates the impact of current food recovery operations in Boulder; perceptions of food donation among city grocery stores, restaurants, and cafés; and the potential for rerouting more food away from the trash and onto the table.
This week, in Part 3 of our blog series on the Food Waste Audit, we’re looking at why food retailers don’t donate, and what it would mean for Boulder if they did. The surveys in the Food Waste Audit show that 40% of grocery store employees believe their companies could do more to reduce food waste, including donating more food. Meanwhile six of Boulder’s largest grocery stores don’t donate at all. What is preventing these food retailers from making donations of the food that they end up throwing away?
Apparently, it is concern for the image of the stores, a reasonable fear in a highly competitive market. 30% of those surveyed said that their organization might choose not to donate food because of liability concerns and 7% said their organization might choose to avoid donations because of harm to brand image. Because the food donated, especially produce, would likely have imperfections, there is a fear that the donations would be considered representative of the quality of food the store sells.
As far as the liability concerns, there is great news for those concerned. The BFR legal team did a comprehensive review of liability concerns to help potential donors understand the protections in place, and found the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act. Passed in 1996, it protects food donors from liability excepting cases of gross negligence. Its broad protections mean that grocery stores can send along their food in good faith.
Addressing this major worry with grocery stores could revolutionize food donation in Boulder. The Food Waste Audit estimates that at least 210,000 pounds of food are being discarded at the six locations that are not currently participating in food recovery. This is potentially equivalent to 187,499 meals!
As we mentioned earlier in this blog series, there is huge potential for reducing food insecurity in Boulder through donating the food that we are tossing into the trash right now. The Audit reminds us of the power changes in our behavior around food could have: “…there is likely more than enough good food being discarded in Boulder and Broomfield counties to meet the caloric needs of all of the food-insecure individuals in the area.”
The Boulder Food Rescue and other food recovery organizations in Boulder are working to streamline the donation process so that food goes to hungry mouths, not landfills. We’re all a part of this system.
What do you think you can do to turn things around?
For more from this series, check out Part 1, which gives an overview of the Audit’s findings. Part 2 takes a look at what’s causing waste at restaurants, and gives you some suggestions of how to change your behaviors to make a difference.