While delivering fresh bread daily to local markets, 460 Bread drivers also pick up stale, unsold bread, which used to go to waste. Thanks to the Community Resource Center (CRCTV) food rescue program, Teton Valley residents in need now can get ciabatta, baguettes, or wholegrain loaves for free.
“Food rescue is something that makes a lot of sense,” said CRCTV Executive Director Megan O’Brien. “It’s sort of an easy thing to do.”
O’Brien had heard about food rescue programs while in school at the University of Wyoming, and had friends who volunteered with Hole Food Rescue in Jackson, which began in 2013. CRCTV started its food rescue program less than two months ago. Currently it picks up edible food that would otherwise be thrown away from Big Hole Bagels, 460 Bread, and Broulim’s.
“Food insecurity does exist in Teton Valley,” said O’Brien.
According to the United Way of Treasure Valley, 45 percent of working households in Teton County are living below the necessary income required to satisfy the minimal cost of the five basic household necessities: housing, child care, transportation, health care, and food. The National Resources Defense Council says that reducing food waste by just 15 percent would be enough to feed more than two million Americans per year.
CRCTV drops off food at the Food Pantry, the Family Safety Network, the Hispanic Resource Center, and Seniors West of the Tetons.
“We really try to get it to a lot of different organizations that serve people in needs,” said O’Brien. “It’s just a little something that helps people.”
The Family Safety Network has been able to feed nine families per week with rescued food, including a lot of single mothers who don’t have time to cook.
“It’s been a huge help for them,” said O’Brien. “It saves them quite a bit of money on groceries.”
The food rescue is a good complement to the services that the Food Pantry provides, because the pantry distributes food four days per month and can’t keep stores of perishable foods.
With the food drop-offs, Seniors West of the Tetons has saved money and is able to offer more variety in meals. Seniors can also take home extra food.
Broulim’s has historically donated its expired produce to farmers. CRCTV very recently reached an agreement with Broulim’s about giving priority to humans over animals. Now food rescue volunteers will take all the wasted produce, sort it, and then pass on the leftovers to farmers. This works to the grocery store’s advantage because it means a better tax deduction, as well as fewer non-employees in the produce warehouse space.
The program will grow when more people get involved and more pick-up locations are established. Even with a small crew of volunteers, O’Brien gave a very conservative estimate that they are rescuing about two thousand pounds of food per month.
To get involved, go to crctv.org/how-we-help/teton-valley-food-rescue. If paying for groceries is challenging, rescued food is in the blue bins outside of the CRCTV office in Driggs.