December 23, 2021

If 2020 was one of the most unexpected years in recent history, 2021 comes in second place! We’ve all become used to expecting the unexpected as COVID continues to challenge our community. Food insecurity is still sitting at an all-time high of 1 in 3 Coloradans. But stay with us, there is good news too! As hunger has increased, so has We Don’t Waste’s capacity. 

With so many more people experiencing food insecurity, the first solution we had to tackle was to increase our food output. Most of the food we recover is distributed through partner organizations. These organizations serve a wide variety of communities ranging from elementary schools, veterans, young families, those experiencing homelessness, and more. By providing these organizations with reliable, free food resources, they are able to provide quality food to their communities while dedicating less of their annual budgets towards food expenditures. Less money spent on food means more spent on programming and other resources. 

Our partners aren’t the only way we distribute food! We have 6 to 8 Mobile Food Markets in a typical month. In total, we ran 71 markets this year. These markets served over 50,000 individuals, 40% of whom were children. We were also able to re-introduce the much-loved Garden Place walk-up market to the excitement of the surrounding community! 

We pride ourselves on the variety of foods we are able to provide to both our market participants and our distribution partners. Over 50% of foods recovered were fresh (protein, fruits, veggies, and dairy).

Overall, it was an incredible year of growth for our Mobile Food Markets and our distribution network. How were we able to feed so many people? We expanded our vehicle fleet by 1 van, and our staff by 5 people (making us less small, but still mighty)! We are more mobile than ever! From small pick-ups, increased recovery of frozen foods (thanks to our new walk-in freezer), and new food donor relationships, we are able to recover foods with more efficiency than ever before!

We couldn’t have done all of this alone. Over the last year, we had over 755 people volunteer with us! With over 4,785 hours of volunteering served over the course of the full year––our community really pulled their weight! 

We also stayed busy educating youth all across the Denver metro area about food waste and what they can do to prevent it. The enthusiasm we have seen during these presentations definitely makes us hopeful for the future!

It wasn’t all work though, we got to have some fun with everyone at several events! 

Our 12th Fill A Plate For Hunger was held in September and we had the privilege of enjoying live music, incredible food, and an exciting auction! We received an immense amount of support from the attendees, sponsors, and local chefs in attendance and can’t wait to do it again next year!

Canstruction® made its triumphant return to Colorado and was on display November through early December at Stanley Marketplace! We had several larger-than-life structures made entirely out of canned food from local architecture and engineering firms (in addition to two bonus structures designed and built by our very own IT & Database Administrator, Mario)! Huge congrats to the winner of the People’s Choice Award, W.E. O’Neil Construction Co. of Colorado with their CANorado Grill design.

Towards the end of the year, we celebrated a staggering amount of generosity from our community! Giving Tuesday and Colorado Gives Day were just a week apart at the end of November, and we were stunned by the support! Thousands of donors showed up to effect change and showed a record-breaking level of support.  

In total, $76,000 was donated over a 24-hour period alone! To put that in perspective, that will result in around 518,000 more meals of recovered food! That equals roughly 1,500,000 servings of food representing 11,000 tons of greenhouse gases prevented. 

It was a strong way to end the year, and motivates us to make next year even better! 

Thank you for joining us on the wild ride that was 2021! The amount of support we received stuns us every day.

As a part of this community, serving the community, we feel deeply indebted to everyone for their help and support, and we look forward to a day where hunger is drastically reduced, food ends up on plates, and Colorado is a happier, healthier home for all!