Welcome to Table Scraps, an intermittent series on the growing problem of food waste and what some eateries, officials, farms, institutes, and everyday people are doing right. This isn’t a guilt trip, just a way to unpack initiatives attempting to reduce kitchen waste and food loss, as more than 40 percent of all food is wasted in the U.S. We’ll explore backyard composting to city programs, restaurant tips to technology, and anything related to this global issue. Heat up those leftovers and settle in.
In June, we reported on Waste NOT for this monthly series, even doing a small segment on KJZZ's The Show about it. The 501 (c)(3) organization is a highly efficient transportation service, picking up large-scale food donations from restaurants, grocery stores, and catering companies and delivering it to organizations feeding those in need. We checked in with the company's staff earlier in the summer, and now, they’re checking in with us, spreading the big news: United Food Bank is formally collaborating with Waste NOT.
Starting now, Waste NOT will operate as a United Food Bank affiliate — though it will maintain its 501(c)(3) charitable status.
The United Food Bank is another 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, this one offering hunger relief to the east Valley as well as eastern Arizona. Similar to Waste NOT, it acquires, stores, and distributes food and related commodities to more than 220 partner agencies, in turn serving more than 228,000 people in need. To put into perspective, United Food Bank distributed nearly 24 million pounds of food, or about 19.5 million meals, in 2018.
Now combine that with Waste NOT’s 2018 stats. Waste NOT delivered 3.5 million pounds of prepared food to 87 nonprofits, diverting 1,750 tons of food from local landfills. This was a record-breaking year for the agency and equated to more than $4 million of economic value.
That means 2019 is looking pretty good. As of June, Waste NOT had recovered more than 562,000 pounds of fresh food and delivered it to local agencies.
Together, United Food Bank and Waste NOT annually save 8 million pounds of edible, perishable food from grocery stores, caterers, and other food purveyors that would otherwise be discarded. Combining resources, leadership, infrastructure, and operating efficiencies will improve and expand the agencies’ efforts to combat local hunger and food waste.
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“We are very excited to welcome Waste NOT and their complementary program to our team as a wonderful value-add to the constituents we serve. Their unique service of prepared food rescue is an innovative solution to our widespread hunger issue,” Dave Richins, United Food Bank CEO, says in a press release.
Our old friend Kate Thoene, executive director at Waste NOT, responded in kind: “I’m thrilled to be working with United Food Bank, who prioritizes collaboration and sees this expanded partnership and prepared food rescue as an avenue to move the needle on hunger relief in Arizona.”
And if this news has you all geared up to help fight hunger and food waste, the two agencies are working to make this the summer of a million meals. Participants may donate until September 2 and help United Food Bank and Waste NOT reach their summer 2019 goal.