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Food Rescue Feature

March 15, 2018 | Newsletter

Waste not, want not. We’re giving new meaning to the old maxim, thanks to a rapidly expanding retail store donation program. With dozens of grocery stores, convenience stores, and national chains connected to our partner agencies, we’re rescuing nearly 3 million lbs. of food each year. This food rescue wouldn’t be possible without a heavy emphasis on collaboration.

Here’s how it works: Food Bank of Iowa staff identify a local store that is not currently connected to the food rescue network. We introduce the program to the store’s leadership, then partner them with a local agency, like a food pantry or congregant meal site. That local agency begins regular pickups, sometimes multiple times a week, from the store. Perfectly good fresh produce, prepared foods, and grocery items are saved from the dumpster and, instead, put to the best possible use: feeding Iowans in need.

Food rescue is not a new idea, but it’s an idea that’s gained steam in recent years. Our new retail donation coordinator, Steven Williams, is stoking the fire. Through his efforts, our existing retail partnerships, like with Walmart and Target stores, have expanded, and new partnerships with local retailers including Fareway grocery stores and Kum & Go convenience stores have budded. As each new partner comes online, more food goes to community members in need.

Fareway stores provide extra grocery items to local food pantries, allowing the pantries to maintain full shelves and devote some resources to other necessities, like personal hygiene items. Currently, nine Fareway stores are connected to the food rescue network, with every metro store slated to connect by this summer.

Kum & Go stores in the Des Moines metro have been partnered with local school pantries. Teenage students (who require more calories than fully grown adults) benefit from breakfast sandwiches, subs, and more. They start their school day on a full stomach, and connect with after-school programming by staying to receive from the school pantry. Kum & Go stores across the country are pairing up with local Feeding America food banks, and corporate leaders are exploring a formal partnership with our national network. Good things are happening.

Food insecurity has never been a question of “not enough food” – research has shown that about 70 billion lbs. of food goes wasted each year in America. With our retail donation program, we’re cutting that number down, little by little. With every store added to the network, we’re putting meals on Iowans’ tables. With every partnership, we get a little closer to our vision of a hunger free Iowa.

For more information about our food rescue program visit https://www.foodbankiowa.org/make-a-difference/food-rescue.

Danny Akright |

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