Written by: Caroline Hissong, We Don’t Waste, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
This month we are excited to announce that we have launched the Fork and Spoon Club! We have always offered a monthly giving option, but decided to launch a formal program to thank our current monthly donors and to reward anyone that chooses to join from this point forward!
Why Donate Monthly?
Your donations go directly towards supporting the foundation of the organization. We recover food from our donors and distribute it to the 100+ hunger relief agencies that we’re proud to partner with, or to one of our mobile markets.
Monthly commitments to our organization play a pivotal role in us operating year-round. Many donations are seasonal, as most donors consider giving during holidays or events, but the need for food support is always present in our community!
By choosing to continuously support us, it helps We Don’t Waste remain sustainable into the future. Because we can better predict our funds, we can better apply our resources to fight year-round food insecurity. It keeps gas in our trucks and the freezers running! A stable budget also means we can be more reactive when disasters like COVID make an immediate impact on the community. In 2020 we were able to mobilize a much more expansive program with our Mobile Food Markets because we knew that we had the support of the community.
How do I decide what I can give?
If you have ever planned a budget, you have probably heard of the “latte effect”. That is, consider how often you go out to a cafe to get a coffee. $5 in one purchase might not seem like a large purchase at the time, but multiply that by the number of times in a year you go out for coffee and you would be shocked at how many hundreds of dollars it adds up to. All of this is to say, any amount you choose to give adds up quickly! If you can commit just $5 or $10 dollars a month, you probably won’t miss the change from your wallet, but after a year you’ve made a much larger impact!
It is completely up to you to decide what you can afford to give, but any amount you can give goes straight back into making our community a healthier and happier place. Your support leads to a stronger community, and we could not be more thankful for your decision to help!
What are the perks for joining?
So you’ve decided to join the club, that’s great! You have our love and thanks for your generosity, but you also get access to some fun perks so you can get to learn more about our organization and the impact you’re making!
All monthly donors will receive a VIP invitation to We Don’t Waste Wednesdays––a monthly gathering at our distribution center to tour the facility, meet our staff, and enjoy food and beverages! If a behind the scenes peek at the operation isn’t enticing enough, we are a pretty fun crew to get to know as well!
Monthly donors can also look forward to an exclusive invitation to our fundraising events throughout the year. If fancy dinners and cocktails from local chefs are your thing, you’ll want to join us at our annual Fill A Plate for Hunger celebration. We recognize the work of our donors and sponsors, enjoy food from dozens of wonderful local chefs, and raise a truly awesome amount of funds to help us grow our impact the following year. If creativity and sculpture is more your style, you do not want to miss the Canstruction® event! Teams from local architecture and construction companies compete to build sculptures out of canned food Canstruction® has definitely become a cult-favorite among the participants!
Commit to donating in May, and the annualized amount of your commitment is matched by the PB and K Family Foundation! That means your donation is effectively doubled! If you choose to donate during the month of May and commit to $25 dollars a month or more, you will also receive a reusable We Don’t Waste Tote Bag! The tote features our logo on the front so that you can rep your pride on your next grocery trip.
So with all of that being said, consider if monthly giving is right for you. It’s quick and easy to sign up, just a few minutes of your time can help keep good food out of landfills and feed hungry people instead!
Written by: Caroline Hissong, We Don’t Waste, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
More than half of the households in Colorado with children are struggling to find regular access to nutritious food.
Addressing food insecurity is a key part of our mission––but what makes summer hunger unique? Food insecurity is a state in which people lack reliable access to affordable and nutritious food. The summer season adds an additional set of challenges, as about 22 million children in the U.S. rely on food assistance programs providing free or low-cost lunches, breakfasts, and after-school snacks at their schools. With school shutdowns due to COVID many children in Colorado have already had less access to support programs and have had to endure more hunger during the school year than in previous years.
When school is out for the summer, the National Summer Food Service Program reaches less than 1 in 10 children in Colorado in need. Challenges with transportation and/or having to travel an excessive distance to a food program site leaves the majority of these children without that lifeline. Families, very suddenly, have to come up with a plan to provide additional meals every day for each child in the household.
While many people are feeling a sense of relief due to the accessibility to the COVID-19 vaccine, the economic fallout of the past year is still devastating to much of Colorado’s population. Currently, more than 1 in 3 Coloradans currently considered food insecure. In order to feed their children over summer, the average family sees their grocery bill increase by $300 each month. This often leads to difficult decisions in which two-thirds of all low-income families have to choose between paying for utilities, medical care, or food.
And for children, in particular, hunger isn’t just about a full belly; there are major health implications that come from malnutrition which can affect them the rest of their lives. For children this can mean more long-term health consequences such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, iron deficiency, and more.
Hunger and malnutrition contribute to reduced attendance and participation in school, as well as the “slideback” of education in the summer. Food insecurity also directly affects children’s learning capacity, as well as their chances of graduating high school. By feeding our children during the summer they’re more likely to succeed during the school year and find security as an adult.
While food insecurity is a problem for millions of families over summer, the issue has worsened in 2021. For many children in Colorado their health and happiness is on the line this summer.
Our Mobile Food Markets provide FREE, healthy food to Colorado kids and their families, supporting them during the extra challenges of the summer. Thanks to the work of our volunteers and our generous donors we are able to put millions of servings of fresh food on plates that would have otherwise been empty.
Your donations are doubled for the month of May thanks to our active donation matching campaign. Please consider supporting We Don’t Waste in our mission to fight summer hunger.
Angela, our office volunteer, spends a day on the truck.
As a Denver transplant, I was lucky to stumble upon We Don’t Waste. I had some free time every week, and wanted to find an organization where I could make a productive impact on the community. I signed up to be a volunteer and within a short time, I was helping the office with administrative work. I can confidently say; their impact doesn’t hit home until you see the amount We Don’t Waste re-distributes to the community first hand.
Our day began at the We Don’t Waste office in the RINO neighborhood. The team assembles and plans the route for the day. Since many of the products are fresh, their path can change that morning, and even during the day. If a donation is called into the office while the trucks are out, the message is passed to the appropriate truck driver to schedule a pick up.
We Don’t Waste has grown rapidly since its inception in 2009. Their fleet has grown from picking up and delivery in a Volvo station wagon to three refrigerated trucks. They now have a 10-foot truck, a 14-foot truck and an 18-foot truck, all refrigerated. The 14-foot truck is the first of their trucks to be standard warehouse dock height, so it makes the team even more efficient. I joined Dana Van Daele, Program Manager, and Tim Sanford, Director of Operations, on the 14-foot truck and we headed to our first stop, a major soup manufacturer. They provided a buffet-sized variety of soups, like split pea, tomato basil, and quinoa vegetable, as well as green, rice, and pasta salad kits.
Our next stop was an ARC Thrift Stores distribution center. We were called about several pallets worth of non-perishable food items. I had no idea how much food was donated to ARC, but unfortunately, they don’t have the capability to distribute food in addition to the massive quantity of other donations. However, their manager has been working with We Don’t Waste for years to apportion these non-perishables to numerous philanthropic organizations. When we arrived, we were given 3 Gaylord pallets packed to the brim. These pallets can safely transport over 1000 pounds! As we loaded them onto the truck with the pallet jack, I saw every preserved food item you can imagine: tea, coffee, drink mixes, crackers, cereal, pasta, canned vegetables, ready meals, protein bars, popcorn, etc.
Since the non-perishables pallets were added to the route that morning, we had to find non-profits able to accept such a large donation. While Tim drove, Dana started making calls. We found our first drop off location at Thrive Church in Federal Heights and our second at a maternal home in Wheat Ridge. Both organizations were able to accommodate one pallet each.
Our last pick up for the day was from the Denver Flea on Broadway. They had thousands of cans of soda left over from their recent flea market event. The natural sodas contained no high fructose corn syrup and the flavor varieties included: cola, root beer, cherry vanilla, and cream soda. The only hitch was there was more soda than estimated and we had to call in another truck to handle the weight. There was enough soda to load two maxed-out pallets onto each truck and require another trip the following day!
Our final drop off destination was City Harvest Food Bank that delivers to community pantries and food banks throughout the Denver area. We were able to donate two pallets of soda and several crates of soups and salad kits.
We Don’t Waste’s positive effect can be felt at over 75 non-profits and countless events along the Front Range, but it hits home when you see the sheer volume of food they save from the landfill. Not only do they keep millions of servings a year from becoming garbage, they also turn around and give back to non-profits that provide nutritious food to those under-served in the community. Watching the team diligently work, motivated by their altruistic spirit, makes you appreciate how significant societal changes can start with a small group. I couldn’t be happier to volunteer for such a commendable team!
Angela, We Don’t Waste Office Volunteer
I spent the day with We Don’t Waste and it was obvious from word one that my driver Matt was more passionate about his work than most of us are on our best days. He told me that he measures his day not by number of servings or dollar amounts (though, those stats are meticulously tracked), but rather by thinking about the number of hungry people fed.
Our day took us all over the metro area, from hospitals and catering companies to non-profits doing a variety of inspiring work, serving all kinds of populations.
One specific stop stood out above the rest, however, and served as a microcosm of the We Don’t Waste mission. It was a delivery to an organization that provides the tools and guidance necessary for formerly incarcerated men and women to successfully transition back into society. This was We Don’t Waste’s first delivery here, but you wouldn’t have known that based on the incredibly warm reception that we received and the rapport between Matt and the staff there. We were even treated to a tour of their facility and a run-down of their incredible work. Herein lies the true power and importance of We Don’t Waste: it’s not just about picking up and delivering food, it’s about building relationships, and this was the beginning of a wonderful new relationship.
Herein lies the true power and importance of We Don’t Waste: it’s not just about picking up and delivering food, it’s about building relationships, and this was the beginning of a wonderful new relationship.
When your life is a daily struggle, a meal means so much more than a full stomach. It can mean the strength to persevere, a rejuvenation, an inspiration. The collaborations, partnerships, and friendships that can be built with the simple act of distributing food is extraordinary. We Don’t Waste is able to alleviate some of the burden that these other organizations deal with, enabling them to more effectively carry out their work and serve those who need it most.
It was wonderful to be a part of that effort.
We Don’t Waste was proud to be apart of this wonderful event for Kids Against Hunger and Colorado Feeding Kids. A group of over 600 volunteers from Excel Energy assembled in a school gymnasium to pack meals for those less fortunate. They created meal packets of protein rich beans and rice for the hungry. In Colorado, 1 in 5 children don’t know where their next meal will come from. Colorado Feeding Kids and Kids Against Hunger want to ensure that children in Colorado and around the United States don’t go hungry. The volunteers spent their day working hard to assemble almost 300,000 meals for those in need. We Don’t Waste then distributed that food into our hunger fighting network to ensure it gets into the stomachs of the kids who need food.