Learning As I Grow
This past year has been a year of growth for me. Growing up, I had the privilege of not worrying about the next meal that would be on the table. Thanks to Eat Greater Des Moines, I have gone from thinking that people are hungry because we don’t have enough food to realizing the crazy amount of healthy and perfectly good food that is produced every day that continues to be thrown away.
Take our new partner, Trader Joe’s, as an example. This month, we have received dairy products, meat, bakery items, produce, frozen meals, pre-packaged meals, and so much more. Healthy, nutritious, and tasty options for our partners – options that would be going to waste if Trader Joe’s wasn’t proactive in implementing a food recovery program.
The Conversation Continues
This is just the beginning of a conversation we have been having for so many years. I’ll admit it. It is near impossible to solve world hunger and it probably won’t be fixed during any of our lifetimes. But, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work towards that solution right now.
The problem that exists in our system is that it does not provide equitable access to food for all residents. Huge amounts of safe, quality food are thrown away, filling up landfills and contributing to climate change. Grocery deserts plague low-income neighborhoods and rural communities, forcing non-drivers to shop at nearby convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable options.
Trader Joe’s has been proof that large quantities of excess food can come out of just one store. Think about what we could do if every grocery store was on the same page. The bounty of food that gets thrown away every day could be shared with food-insecure households across the metro, or even among friends, family, and neighbors
What Can You Do?
Food recovery programs are essential to fixing food disparity. Simply knowing that Trader Joe’s participates in food rescue draws me in to want to support them more. So I challenge you. Ask retailers if they have food recovery partners picking up from them throughout the week. If not, encourage them to take action.
I encourage you to share what you know about food insecurity within your network and learn about the many opportunities for change at the places that you shop. Grocery stores account for 13% of all food wasted in the U.S. with 76% coming from perishable items like produce, deli, and protein. Locally, 25% of grocers and convenience stores are participating in food recovery.
As a consumer, your voice is critical. If you reach out to your grocer or convenience store, and they want more information on how they can start a food recovery program, tell them to send us an email! We would be happy to have a conversation about what the next steps look like for them.