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TMD Podcast, S3 E2: Redistributing Healthy Food With Boulder Food Rescue

Boulder Food Rescue is a non-profit that redistributes healthy food to low-income communities. They do this by picking up fruits and vegetables that otherwise would be thrown away and delivering those items to places like food pantries & shelters, or directly to local low-income communities. Oh, and they do all of this by bicycle. I actually first heard of Boulder Food Rescue back when I interviewed Ethan from Falling Fruit for season 2 of the podcast. Since then, I have seen their bikes all over town, snow or shine (don't worry about the safety of the volunteers - Boulder actually clears the bike paths of snow before they do the roads for cars!).

There are a lot of reasons food waste happens. Hayden talks about the fact that a lot of the food they redistribute comes directly from grocery stores. None of this food is "bad", its all still absolutely healthy and edible but it would have been wasted for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it's the"standards" for the grocery store - if a piece of produce doesn't look absolutely perfect and symmetrical, they will throw it out. Also, grocery stores get shipments of new food all the time and they don't always have a lot of storage space, so a lot of times the produce from the floor gets wasted to make room for the newer shipment.

How can we put 10 percent of our national energy budget, 50 percent of our land use, and 80 percent of our freshwater resources into food, truck it around the country, and then end up throwing away nearly 40 percent of everything we produce, much of which is still edible and healthy? So much perfectly good, tasty and healthy food is ending up in the landfill. -Hayden Dansky, "Boulder Food Rescue: From Passion To Impact, Redefining Food Systems"

Boulder Food Rescue redistributes food in many ways, including to food pantries, meal programs and shelters, but the way that I find most inspiring is directly to low income people through their no cost grocery program. Through this program, they bring the food directly to the community through a housing site or a daycare, for example - a place that someone utilizing this program will already be, which removes any barriers of picking up the food. They have coordinators (someone who is in the community and knows it's needs best) that have set up a way to then distribute the food to their community. Each program functions differently, because each community is different. I think this program speaks directly to what a lot of well-meaning community support programs miss - that each community functions differently and has different needs. One size does not always fit all and if someone wants to truly be helpful, they need to recognize that sometimes the best way to be helpful is to give control to the community directly.

In the interview, Hayden and I talk about a lot of things, including how Boulder Food Rescue programs work, what food insecurity is, and why they deliver by bicycle. Here are some of the highlights:

  • 5:40 - Boulder Food Rescue is redistributing 1600 pounds of food every day

  • 6:37 - They have 26 no-cost grocery programs across boulder and every one is different

  • 10:21 - Why is the food delivered by bicycle?

  • 16:53 - Fresh Food Connect - donate your home-grown produce

  • 19:08 - Forward Food Summit - social justice side of food systems. who has access to food and who doesn't and why? 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 5 children have a hard time accessing food. What is food insecurity?

  • 26:43 - How to start your own food rescue - the Food Rescue Alliance. What is food justice and food equity?

  • 38:45 - Advice for anyone interested in learning about food rescues, food justice, food equity, etc. What is the root of something that inspires you? By naming what is hard you can start to build community and action.

I hope this episode inspires you as much as it inspired me! Please let me know in the comments below.

1 Comment

stacey pedersen
stacey pedersen
Apr 28, 2019

I love Boulder Food Rescue!

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