By Guy Guthrie
Christian Charities/Wayne County Food Rescue
About two years ago, SugarCreek Brandworthy Food Solutions announced that they would build a new meat processing plant in Cambridge City, IN. They hired Jason Spears, a production line manager that immediately saw that their plant would create surplus food of their products, often referred to a "shrink" in the industry. Jason researched food donations, and he reached out to John Williamson, the Executive Director of Food Rescue, and John began to provide educational resources about the legalities and tax benefits of donating instead of dumping, as well as caring agency connections to work with the company to insure they were feeding families and not landfills with their surplus food.
A year prior to Jason's phone call, I had reached out to Food Rescue to learn more about the ins and outs of rescuing food, and our organization, Christian Charities of Richmond/Wayne County, officially formed Wayne County Food Rescue. That story can be seen here. Christian Charities and Wayne County Food Rescue was able to work with both Jason and Sugarcreek, and I am happy to report our first pick-up.
In April of 2018, the first corporate donation of SugarCreek's product, processed meats, was made. Christian Charities and Wayne County Food Rescue is looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership with Sugarcreek. Their first donation was 7 pallets with over 3,000 lbs. of donated product, and weekly pick-ups will occur to feed families and not landfills, which could result in over 150,000 pounds of protein annually from one facility being donated, and Food Rescue, Christian Charities/Wayne County Food Rescue hopes to facilitate similar donations from four other Brand Worthy Food Solutions plants around the nation in the near future, including Cincinnati Ohio.
Once Hungry for Food, Now Hungry for Change
My younger brother and I would take turns staying at grandmas’ houses so my mom and dad could work extra shifts. We never went to bed hungry.
Then, I turned 16, and my parents divorced. Money became tight and food, less healthy. My siblings and I qualified for lunch assistance, and we all tried to keep our struggles secret. We weren’t the only students living on little, but I remember noticing, more and more, how much food others threw away. Perceptive friends offered me food, but teachers told us it was against the rules.
In fall 2017, I enrolled in a Ball State Journalism immersive class to capture stories and recipes of East Central Indiana. I had no idea it would take me back to those days, as a hungry, uncertain child, but it did, and I am so thankful.
Our research unearthed Food Rescue, a national nonprofit that works with more than 200 organizations and 500 schools to collect and redistribute unwanted and unwrapped items. Since its creation in 2017, the nonprofit has rescued roughly 1 million meals each year from the 40 percent of food we waste.
At the organization’s 10-year celebration, I met John Williamson, the organization’s president and CEO, and learned he graduated from Ball State. It empowered me to know someone who maybe sat in these same seats, is making a lasting impact on the lives of boy and girls like me.
The best part: Williamson is driven to eradicate the perception that people are “less than” if they accept the generosity of others. Food Rescue, based in Carmel, Indiana, encourages students—no matter their situation—to take from the collection. The organization’s focus on education helps young minds understand that enjoying rescued food lessens our impact on the environment. We throw away 1 billion unwrapped and unpeeled food items each year in the United States.
My experience with hunger and need was short-lived, but life doesn’t settle down for everyone, and kids are often caught in the middle. One in six people are still food insecure in the United States, and more than 300,000 Hoosier kids don’t know where their next meal is coming from, according to Food Rescue.
I hope Food Rescue and other organizations continue to change attitudes.
I share my story to give a face to food insecurity in our region and to encourage my neighbors to not judge and to be part of the solution. This battle shouldn’t be fought alone. Together, we can make sure no one goes hungry.
We are so excited to unveil our Food Rescue Warrior video! This project was made possible thanks to the generous Extending Grace grant we received through Grace Church. We wanted to be able to tell the story of K-12 Food Rescue through the children who are empowered by our program. We teamed up with Green Sky Media and Pike Township schools to make this happen. Pike was a natural fit due to their rich and robust program that is proudly student lead! We could not have imagined how beautiful and powerful their words could be.
The students featured were wonderful to work with and so excited to talk about K-12 Food Rescue! Every student featured is active in their K-12 Food Rescue program. They were thrilled to share their story with other schools with the hope that more kids could take part of this movement. One of the students told me he loves to work with K-12 Food Rescue because family members struggle with food insecurity and it is a good feeling to know the food saved at school is going to help them eat.
At the end of the day, this is why we do what we do. We want to change the way kids look at food waste and hunger. We want to teach them that no matter what their situation may be, there is always a way to help someone else. It is always possible to change the world. There is no shame in having leftover food in schools. The shame is throwing it away and with it the teachable moments which can literally change the trajectory of a child’s life.
So, take a look at the video and let us know what you think. Please share it as much as you can! Let’s get this in front of school decision makers all over the country! Join the Food Rescue Revolution--you too can be a Food Rescue Warrior!