Friday, July 13, 2012

Rescue Food from your Local Dumpster!

A lot of people feel that there's not enough food to go around in this country but I've watched, witnessed and participated in something that says otherwise.  It's more about distribution of food than food produced.

Several months ago I watched the movie DIVE on Netflix.  The video clip below is a preview of the movie:

A friend of mine sent an email asking for help.  She volunteers in the community by bringing food from  a few of the local grocery stores or warehouse club to the local soup kitchen.  She was going to be out of the country for a few months and needed people to cover the days she would have normally been doing all the shuttling of the food from the store to the soup kitchen.  I volunteered along with several other people to pick up food a couple days a week as it worked out with the schedules of driving kids to camp, vacations etc....

It was one thing to see a movie about the food waste in this country but to see it in person blew me away!  Monday of this week I had to bring my son to camp so I wasn't able to do the food drop so my husband volunteered to do it for me.  Today (Friday) my husband wanted to help me out so we made it a family activity.  We went to the local warehouse club and two words: Oh MY!  There were 4 large carts worth of breads, croissants, muffins, fresh veggies (many organic), fruit and lots of meats/poultry (a lot of it was organic).

We made two trips to the food shelter/soup kitchen because it was impossible to fit all of it in our Jeep in one trip (and we stacked it to the ceiling).

Here are a few pictures of all the food that was picked up and delivered today:

First pickup was for breads and a few cakes.

Produce topped off the bread for the first load.
For the second load lots of meats and produce.

Note the dumpster to the left.  If there were no volunteers
to transport the food then that's where the food would end up.

The question is how come so much food gets thrown out and why is there so much available to throw out?  

We had a conversation with the employee at the club warehouse and they need to have 90% capacity on their shelves.  Why?  because if it's not on the shelf then that's a missed sale.  We live in a society where we are used to getting what we want anytime we want it.  This of course leaves a lot of excess waste and the day before or the date of a food expiration it's pulled off the shelf to be thrown out (if it's not already arranged to be brought to a soup kitchen/shelter/food bank).

So what happens at the local soup kitchen?  When they have excess they then call other local food banks or soup kitchens to distribute the food via volunteers.

So what can you do?  Check out your local grocery stores and food banks/soup kitchens and find out where all the food is going and what help they need.  Then volunteer even if it's just for a couple days a year.  It's for a good cause and it's a great learning experience for children as to how valuable food really is and where it should be going.  In people's hungry bellies not the landfill!

A few facts:

Food waste beats every category! 

From the US EPA (

A few facts borrowed from the DIVE Website ( :

  • Every year in America we throw away 96 billion pounds of food. 

  • One half of all food prepared in the US and Europe never gets eaten. 

  • The Department of Agriculture estimated in 1996 that recovering just 5 percent of the food that is wasted could feed four million people a day; recovering 25 percent would feed 20 million people. Today we recover less than 2.5 percent. 


  1. Great post! I will call my local grocery store to see what I can do to help!

  2. Thank you Danielle for taking the time to read my article/post and making the call!

  3. Great to see you still writing and sharing! Thanks for sharing, what a great oppty that I will need to seize with my kids. Something so simple!! Makes me consider diving too ; )

  4. Mid it is a great thing to share with the kids! My 7yr old was apprehensive at first but once he understood what we were doing and saw how much food we were transporting he really enjoyed helping out.

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