Our Food Rescue program is a important part of our work to increase food access while decreasing waste, and it wouldn’t be possible without the help of our amazing volunteers! Every week, they rescue the fresh foods that grocery stores can no longer sell so that they can be distributed for free to our neighbors. These foods add a healthy and wholesome addition to the non-perishable food items we offer at Feeding Chittenden.
The food rescue volunteering program got started when Angela (formerly the food rescue coordinator, currently the volunteer coordinator) realized driving around to pick up food all day was too much for just one person to do alone. So she enlisted the help of some special volunteers who donate not just their time, but their vehicles, too! As Angela says, “they use their own cars, and make their own relationships with the stores along their own routes. They do the whole thing.” Our current food rescue coordinator Patrick also utilizes this volunteer network. The volunteers not only help by physically transporting food, but also by networking all over the county, so that we’re able to access more locations with excess groceries. Patrick says that the volunteers independently manage relationships between Feeding Chittenden and food rescue pick-up sites so that we have access to the groceries our community needs, and avoid food waste at the same time.
Martha, a member of our food rescue volunteer team, picks up food from Healthy Living twice a week. This week was a fairly typical pick-up, she said, as she unloaded 9 large boxes filled with salad greens, peppers, potatoes, and bananas. Sometimes, she comes to Feeding Chittenden from Healthy Living with her little blue honda civic filled “chock-a-block” with various dairy and pantry items. For someone like Martha– an avid gardener and self-proclaimed “gleaner, saver, and make-it-worker”– Feeding Chittenden’s Food Rescue program is the perfect way to make a difference in her community. Simply by delivering excess food from one local store twice a week, Martha is not only reducing food waste. She’s also ensuring that more people in Chittenden County have easy access to fresh, high-quality produce!