What happens when a grocery store has 5 cases of produce, a day’s leftover bread from the bakery, and a pallet of coffee, all past their sell dates? Or when a restaurant finds they must offload their perishable goods prior to shutting down their business? Although food waste has finally leveled off, many businesses still find themselves with excess, edible food.
Food Finders continually answers the calls of restaurants, grocers and others who find themselves in need of a resource to donate food rather than carelessly and irresponsibly tossing it in the trash. At first glance, the solution may seem simple—send a driver over to pick up the food—problem solved!
But food rescue and recovery is a little more involved than that. A typical food bank may accept donations dropped at their door. Food Finders takes it a few steps further. All new donation requests are funneled through Chris Wong, Food Donor Acquisitions Manager, and are first qualified. How much food is it? What type? How is it packed, stored, contained? Will there be a loading area for pick up? Once some of the basics are determined, Chris can assign a staff driver to large donations, or volunteers are connected who can manage smaller donations.
That food does not find its way back to Food Finders’ warehouse. Instead, it’s delivered immediately within a close distance. The community benefits from its local donors, and the donor feels good about helping the local community. They can also receive a tax write-off.
The request gets relayed from Acquisitions to the Agency Coordination staff who are responsible for matching the donation to a partner recipient agency. No refrigeration on-site? Then you must have a program that distributes immediately or same-day. Each agency is vetted to determine if they can accept the food based on their location, volume of need and type of food requested, and program schedule.
From there, volunteers or staff drivers are set to pick up. Some donations occur weekly or daily. Others are occasional. The Food Finders app is downloadable, and volunteers are encouraged to use this app to remotely access available food donations. The app will indicate approximately how much food is available, the location of the donor, who to contact, and where the food is assigned for distribution. Maps with directions are provided along with any special instructions.
This process happens hundreds of times weekly.
Sounds like a well-oiled machine? It is! And after 32 years of running its food rescue program, Food Finders is still finding ways to streamline the process. Plus, we are always adding to our network of donors and volunteer base. If you’d like to make a donation or want to share about or get involved in our program, see www.foodfinders.org. We’d love to have your join us in reducing hunger and food waste!