Written by Executive Director Teresa Curtiss
It all began with too many chicken eggs. I had to find a place to take the eggs and that place ended up being our local Salvation Army Food Pantry. Prior to the egg donations, I didn’t even know the pantry existed since it was tucked away in the back of a building, plus I didn’t need its services. I befriended the women who worked there and over the months and years, as I donated more and more food, they told me about the increasing numbers of families in need. At the same time, the food donations were not increasing enough to meet the demand. After hearing this, and seeing first hand the families coming in, I knew I wanted to do something to help these people get more food.
What eventually resulted, a couple years later, was the formation of Athens Food Rescue. I didn’t know anything about food rescue or starting a nonprofit so I did a lot of research. That research led me to contacting John at Food Rescue. He was very informative and helped me, amongst other things, better understand the liability issue surrounding food rescue. Other key supporters were Boulder Food Rescue and the Food Donation Connection. I was fortunate enough to find three other women to start the group with me and we became an official nonprofit in July of 2015.
Athens Food Rescue is an all-volunteer organization that aims to bridge the gap in our food system by increasing food waste diversion. We redistribute surplus food from donors and transport it directly to those in need, such as the hungry, homeless, and low income people. This promotes environmental health by reducing solid waste transported to landfills and decreases food insecurity in our region by providing meals to those in need.
Our main donors are not grocery stores, like many rescue groups collect from, but restaurants and other food establishments. Since our inception we have collected over 24,000lbs of food for those in need in our small but very food insecure community in Ohio. Our biggest donation ever happened just last week, which consisted of salads, loaves of bread, pastries, milk, and produce totaling 1,937lbs! All of this food comes from 12 consistent donors and numerous other intermittent donors. We are now able to play a small part in helping to feed over 900 people each week. This amazing feat is done solely by the dedication of about 15 volunteers.
We have been able to provide food to the Salvation Army pantry, which was the initial impetus of this group, but also to many more wonderful organizations. You too can make a difference in someone’s life. Join a group already doing food rescue or start your own. If I can do it, anyone can do it!