What do you do when a tomato looks like an apple? Or when a carrot isn’t pin straight? Or when an institution overorders dairy supplies? In the past, most of the perishable food that were surplus items or weren’t quite up to snuff aesthetically were just dropped in a dumpster. Tons and tons, literally, of nutritious, delicious, fresh food simply thrown away.
We here at Backpack Society (BPS) are so very fortunate to have been able to partner with We Don’t Waste (WDW), an amazing non-profit that reclaims and then distributes this quality food to people in need. WDW delivers the unused food to nonprofit partners, like food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, schools, daycare programs and more. The organization has saved more than 150 million servings of food since it was founded in 2009. That’s 150 million servings of food that would have ended up in a dump!
IN THE BEGINNING
June Everett, Founder and President of BPS, first learned about WDW when she participated in Hunger Action Day in September 2019. WDW had a table set up with information about their organization and June picked up a flyer (and some Chapstick, which she still uses today). She did a little more research about the nonprofit and then sat on this resource for a while. At that point in time, June knew that what WDW offered, the fresh produce, dairy, etc., wasn't something the infantile BPS could work with just yet. They were still trying to figure out the logistics of nonperishable food collection, storage and distribution. But June also knew that the time would come when the relationship between Backpack Society and We Don’t Waste would become mutually beneficial.
THE MISSION OF WE DON’T WASTE
In the meantime, WDW continued with its mission that started with a simple question: Why should businesses throw perfectly good food away when people in our community are going hungry? Arlan Preblud asked this question in 2009 and then took it upon himself to locate all the excess food he could and deliver it to local nonprofits free-of-charge. In little more than 10 years, the organization has grown into a full-blown operation led by Arlan’s passion and vision. Today, We Don’t Waste directly serves more than 100 hunger-relief agencies and has partnered with an additional 220. WDW also hosts six to eight mobile food markets a month that bring shelf-stable foods, and fresh produce, dairy and proteins to food deserts all around Denver. The mobile food markets are open to everyone and are free!
THE START OF A BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP
In March 2020, June felt that the time was right for BPS to request the assistance of We Don’t Waste. At that point in time, BPS had established a good collection and distribution system. June and the crew at BPS believed in the mission of We Don’t Waste and wanted to support their efforts in getting good food to people. June called Arlan, founder of We Don’t Waste, and spoke with him about partnering with WDW. In the beginning, BPS was able to accept mostly non-perishable items from We Don’t Waste. Then in February of this year with refrigeration in place, BPS was ready to incorporate fresh foods into its grocery bag of tricks. Since then, We Don’t Waste has been supplying dairy supplies and other proteins and fresh vegetables to Backpack Society on a weekly basis. As of the end of May, BPS has received more than 8,000 pounds – you read that right! FOUR TONS – of food from WDW.
All of us here at Backpack Society are so grateful for our cooperation with We Don’t Waste. To be able to round out our clients’ pantries with fresh, wholesome food makes our hearts sing! We owe that feeling to We Don’t Waste.