Times are tough. All the numbers say so, and there are passionate individuals on the front lines who are working hard everyday to get us back to work, feed the unemployed, and booster their morale.
However, there is one program that is bringing those in need, food banks, and business together. This program is the Retail Donation Program.
“Going on two years ago Community Harvest Food Bank along with many food banks around the country started going to retail food companies (Kroger, Meijer, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Aldi, etc.) and picking up their perishable food items (produce, meat, deli, bakery). In the past these corporations did not donate perishable items to food banks due to the fear that food banks were not educated in safe food handling nor equipped to handle that type of food properly (cold chain compliance, separation by species in the case of meat, refrigerated trucks, etc.).
However, food banking has gotten very sophisticated over the years and we are most certainly bound by the very same rules and regulations as any other food organization.” Says Claudia Johnson, Communications and Advocacy Manager of Community Harvest Food Bank, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
One of the greatest challenges in persuading business to go green is the mistaken belief that there is no economic benefit in doing so.
The Retail Donation Program proves this wrong time and again. In the Fort Wayne, Indiana area, Wal-Mart has reported that each one of their stores saves $500.00 weekly on dumping costs. It just makes sense. If less food goes to the landfill, and is used to feed our hungry, the less dumping needs to be done.
There are new technologies in place that enable food banks to meet compliance issues and big box stores are now able to donate meats and good quality fruits and vegetables that were not available in the past. The entire program is a winning solution because stores receive a tax break, and reduction in dumping costs, better quality food is available for the hungry, and our environment gets a big boost with less to deal with in area landfills!
Community food banks like Community Harvest Food Bank in Fort Wayne, Indiana realize that finding significant solutions helps to solve their challenges as well, “Seeking business solutions to business problems is the future of food banking in our estimation…we can no longer hope for processing ‘mistakes’ like mislabeled cans, etc. for our large food donations. This was a great solution that was beneficial for all and in the first year brought in an additional 1 million pounds of food to Community Harvest “Claudia Johnson, Community Harvest Food Bank, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
1 million pounds of food! This is the kind of creative thinking that will help us all solve the complex challenges we face in the future.