Reduce, Recover, REPACK!
Updated: Jun 16, 2022
Feed Folks, Not Landfills
In the United States, food waste is estimated at between 30-40% of the food supply. This corresponds to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. Most of which is completely edible and wholesome food that could have helped many families. Not to mention the environmental impact costs food waste has when the land, water, labor, energy and other inputs are used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of discarded food.
Since 2011, Just Food has implemented food recovery initiatives with local grocers, restaurants, farms and other food businesses. These efforts have rescued millions of pounds of food to be distributed through Just Food and our 30+ partners. As this program has grown, we have adapted to meet the needs of our food recovery partners and the people we serve.
Like most food banks, bread is one of the most commonly donated perishable items at Just Food. Getting all types of bread product from manufactured sliced loaves from the grocery store to fresh baked daily from our local bakeries. Perishable products are donated towards the end of their edible lifespan, meaning the product doesn't last long on the shelves before it goes bad. Our solutions to reduce the waste of the bread include offering it as chicken feed to farmers. Although this has helped, we still found we could not get bread off the shelves fast enough before it went to the landfill.
In the early days of the pandemic when businesses were shutting down, we found ourselves with a huge influx of donated commercial sized food product. Something a restaurant would have but would not make sense in your average home, like a gallon sized can of tomato sauce. As we all experienced more and more supply chain shortages, we knew we had to make these donations work for our shoppers.
The idea of creating ready-to-eat meals at Just Food has circulated for years. Giving folks food is what Just Food does best, but if our shoppers are unfamiliar with how to cook the food, don't have the equipment to cook, or maybe do not even have a kitchen to cook in, then we are creating more barriers than we are taking away. The idea was simple: make delicious grab-and-go foods for our shoppers and eliminate the waste.
Chetan Michie, Just Food's first Sourcing and Production Manager, joined our team in March with the task of doing just that. Creating sandwiches, smoothie mixes, pasta dishes, pho, salads, and more! In the first 3 months of this program, Chetan and Just Food volunteers have added value to our rescued food and produced 3,695 lbs of ready-to-eat, healthy meals for Douglas County families.
How Can You Help?
Just Food is nothing without our dedicated volunteers and our repack program is no different! With your donation of time and skills, we can meet the need in Douglas County and make sure everyone has the food they need. If you are interested in volunteering, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If volunteering is not something you are able to fit into your schedule right now and still would like to help, please consider a donation to Just Food. With every general donation to Just Food, we are able to purchase products requested by our shoppers and grow our programs like this one! To see all the ways to give, jump over to justfoodks.org/give.