I recently caught up with Hayden Dansky, the Executive Director of BFR, to find out where BFR has been this last year and where it is going in 2018.
2017 is over. 2018 is here. While many of us are happy to usher out the old year with its turbulent politics, we should take a moment to celebrate our victories. Boulder Food Rescue fought hard in 2017 for a just food system. They’re taking what they learned and pushing even harder in 2018.
Each year, BFR works towards community enlightenment while diverting fresh foods from going to waste. Boulder Food Rescue continues to grow, shedding light on food inequities while working tirelessly to reduce waste while providing fresh foods to those who would otherwise go without. They have, and always will take a community-minded approach to combating the causes of hunger.
Food access and hunger are part of a large, systemic problem. When the world produces enough food to feed every human being, as it already does, why then is hunger an issue? The lack of a just and healthy food distribution system is a systemic issue built into our current economic and political models. They’re ingrained, and they’ll be tough to change. But we’ll get more into the causes of hunger as well as the complex web of social constructs surrounding it in future posts.
For now, let’s recap 2017 and see what’s in store for 2018. BFR is working to address root causes of hunger through both action and education. Can we have one without the other?
What has BFR been up to in the last year?
In the last year, BFR has been working on understanding the barriers to food access in our community. We have been working with food-insecure individuals to understand their experiences getting healthy food, and how they want to participate more in their food access systems. We have been specifically working more with Spanish-speaking communities and added a full-time Spanish-speaking recipient coordinator to our team to collect meaningful feedback and better support the communities we work with. We have also added a food donor coordinator to our team to work closely with our retail partners and improve our food waste education and outreach at stores.
What goals does BFR have for the coming year (2018)?
We are about to launch a new program called Fresh Food Connect, where home gardeners can donate excess produce and we will come around to pick up from their homes. This will allow us to increase healthy and local food donations and increase our produce distribution to low-income communities and pre-schools.
What events were successes? Would you have done anything differently?
We had a successful Forward Food Summit hosted in partnership with Denver and Colorado Springs Food Rescue and are planning to host our 5th FFS this year again in Denver in April. The Forward Food Summit is a front-range food rescue collaboration and is a social justice conference focused on food systems and community-driven work. This coming year we will change the setup of the space to be more conducive to small groups and peer-learning.
What have you learned from this past year that you’re going to apply to this coming year?
We have learned A LOT about the experiences of food insecure individuals in Boulder, across and between different demographics and communities. We’ll act on what we have learned by working with nonprofits to better incorporate the feedback and volunteerism of food-insecure individuals accessing resources. We’re producing reports to break down how nonprofits can best serve their communities and be community-based.
Any numbers or statistics you’d like to share on growth and impact?
- We have redistributed 555,702 pounds of food this year so far (and it’s not over!) Last year we ended the year at 505,197, so we already have a significant increase in pounds delivered.
- Number of no-cost grocery programs went from 15 to 19
- Staff team went from 4 to 7
What is the state of hunger in Colorado and regionally?
1 in every 6 people is food insecure, meaning they don’t have access to healthy foods, or they don’t know where their next meal will come from. Sometimes it means that they may make sacrifices in their life, like not being able to pay for a phone bill to put food on the table.
Because it affects families, the statistic is even harder for children. 1 in every 5 children are identified to be food insecure. They often eat at schools but struggle to eat at home on weekends.
This is true for Colorado and across the US. Food access looks different in different places because barriers to getting food may be different between cities and rural areas, but the number of people it affects is similar.
What can individuals do to help?
If anybody wants to start a food rescue in their city or area, we are happy to help. We have a start your own food rescue guide you can find and download for free on our website. If you don’t have time to start your own food rescue, donating monetarily significantly helps us do our work! We have a local impact in Boulder but are also building resources to support food rescues across the country! Every bit helps.
Anything else readers should know to catch them up with what BFR’s been up to?
Food Rescue Alliance is our international peer-learning network that supports food rescues across the country, gives resources and trainings to people doing this work in their communities locally, and supports our resource sharing and direct consulting. Check it out here: boulderfoodrescue.org/food-rescue-alliance