By Mark Peterson
I am fascinated and similarly appalled when diving deep and learning more about our solid waste systems. Still, I revel in thinking big about ways to solve the challenges facing our communities and our planet. In my time here at Sustainable Connections there have been some big wins to celebrate like the incredible efforts of Samson Rope that have resulted in massive cost savings in the 100s of thousands of dollars over the past decade. However, I must admit the initiative that has been really filling my soul as of late is our Food Recovery Initiative (FRI).
For those of you not familiar with this initiative, we safely recover prepared edible foods from a broad spectrum of entities, ranging from the kitchens at senior assisted living facilities to large events, and in turn deliver this nutritious high quality food to hunger relief agencies. When we first started the program I wondered what kind of an impact we could make and the targets we set at the time felt quite high but in fact turned out to be quite low.
The harsh reality is, even though people are going hungry, there is no shortage of food to recover. The upside is we blew away the required deliverables for our first Department of Ecology grant. How well did we do you ask? Thanks to the participating businesses, volunteers and agencies receiving the food we have recovered over 51,000 pounds of food, with over 47,000 pounds of that food redistributed to hunger relief agencies, who in turn served over 39,000 meals to members of our community experiencing hunger insecurity. That is no small feat!
There is no way we could have pulled this off without the support from all areas of our community including restaurants, caterers, event directors and volunteers. A special mention here goes out to the Whatcom County Health Department who has been a partner in this effort from the outset and without their forward thinking, approval and guidance there is no way we would be where we are now.
Which leads me to the next point – because of the exemplary efforts of all involved we have been awarded by the Department of Ecology another two years of funding. This is great news because it will allow us to continue and expand our efforts, reduce food waste and serve even more people in the further reaches of our county. My soul is full knowing that together we are protecting our environment and making a positive difference in people’s lives every single day.
We have some big plans and we’re excited to share our progress along the way. Here is to the future of food recovery – we know the next two years and beyond will be even better.
From all of us here at Sustainable Connections we would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to make the Food Recovery Initiative an ongoing success.