Our mission is simple. It simply doesn’t make sense to see food go to waste while there are families and individuals in our community who don’t have enough to eat. Reducing hunger is at the core of what we do, and it’s easy to understand. If it was a simple math equation, it would read: not enough food + excess food = reduced hunger . But what’s harder to wrap our heads around is the incredible environmental impact that wasted food has on the planet.
Thanks to a summer intern, who combed through data to create formulas to calculate the impacts of different types of food, and to DOMO, who donated software to us that calculates everything from the amount of water saved, to amounts of greenhouse gases that weren’t emitted, we’re able to quantify our impact!
Not unlike burning fossil fuels (which releases CO2), food rotting in landfills creates greenhouse gas emissions (in the form of methane). In fact, if food waste was a country, it would rank third in the world for greenhouse gas emissions (just behind the United States and China). Still, it’s difficult to calculate the exact impact that food waste has on the environment. As a recent article from Popular Science notes, “to calculate that amount for a tomato, you’d have to work out which agricultural processes go into farming that fruit. How much fuel does the tractor use? How much energy goes into the fertilizer? And when it comes to meat, how much does a cow burp? How much energy do you need to make the feed for chickens?”
Fortunately, researchers are taking interest in the life cycle impacts of food products–and we’re applying that information to our numbers at We Don’t Waste.
Here’s an example below of what we’ve been able to calculate:
And those 6,750,984 Pounds of CO2 equivalent that we’ve diverted so far in 2018, are equivalent to the emissions that would be saved from driving 7.5 MILLION miles less.
We’re proud of our impact on people and the planet and are so thankful for everyone who helps us make the impact a reality.
When was the last time you sat down to eat with your family? Sitting down to enjoy a meal with loved ones is perhaps one of the most-simple pleasures that humans enjoy. Dining together is one of those experiences that crosses boundaries of culture and language, something that connects and unifies. Yet, the majority of families in the US report that they eat together less than five times a week.
This matters. Children who regularly eat with their families are less likely to be absent from school, report less problems with drugs and alcohol, have closer relationships with their parents, and are less likely to be overweight. Despite the importance, there are barriers to dining together that are increasingly hard to overcome. Work schedules, after-school practices, food-insecurity, and general lack of time and resources plague many families.
This is where Break Bread comes in. Located at Littleton United Methodist Church, Break Bread provides a community meal, every Saturday, free-of-charge. Founded upon the discovery that the church sits near three schools that have 80% or more of students qualified for free and reduced lunches, Break Bread’s mission is to build meaningful relationships among neighbors through a weekly community meal, offering nourishment, unconditional love, and abundant grace. On any given Saturday, Break Bread feeds 70-100 people, including volunteers, individuals experiencing homelessness, and other community members. Littleton United Methodist Reverend Trudy Robinson attends every meal.
At We Don’t Waste we’ve had the opportunity to support this wonderful mission and serve an area of the city we had not previously served, by providing quality food at no-cost. Break Bread’s head chef, Robert Margolis, noted that they run on a tight budget, and We Don’t Waste helps them expand their budget and menu.
We’ve been excited to support a program that not only feeds people a meal, but also provides an opportunity to build community. Upon speaking with Margolis, it’s clear that Break Bread does much more than fill stomachs—it feeds the spirit. Margolis puts it simply: “Togetherness is a good dynamic to live by.”
Written by Matthew Karm, Food Recovery Specialist
We Don’t Waste has been receiving food donations from Lone Tree Elementary for almost 3 years, and each food pickup is building on momentum from the last. I have been humbled and honored, as a member of the We Don’t Waste team, to have had multiple interactions with the staff and students there. In fact, the students included a drawing of me in a WDW truck on a poster that hangs in the lunchroom above where they deposit their food donations.
One day recently, a kindergarten class there had a special donation for us. They had done a fundraiser for WDW! I was invited to Mrs. Black’s kindergarten class for a presentation of their donation. As each child walked in, they politely introduced themselves and welcomed me to their class. Such a genuine gesture isn’t a rare thing to see at Lone Tree Elementary. After the brief introductions, they explained that they raised over 150 dollars by selling re-sealable lunch bags, so they wouldn’t have to waste disposable bags. The class was filled with raised hands wanting to ask me, “What food do you bring to others? How heavy is it? Where do you go? Can we see your truck?” And so many more. I’m sure my smile was growing with every question. I have a bad poker face especially when faced with an overflow of pure, kind, and heart-filled comments. It was a overwhelming moment. They blew my expectations out of the water––not a surprise from a school that gets it.
From my perspective, I have seen more food collected by the children at Lone Tree than at most other schools we visit. Their commitment and dedication to helping others who might be in need has clearly been instilled in them, by parents, teachers, and even one another. I have to say, they have affected me to the point where my eyes well up and I have bite my lip just to keep up a small professional appearance. Thank you, Lone Tree Elementary for all that you do for We Don’t Waste!
Created by the Academy of Dietetics, National Nutrition Month celebrates nutrition education and encourages people to make healthy and informed decisions about their food. This year’s theme, “Going Further with Food,” focuses on the impact of food on one’s health AND encourages individuals to find ways to make their food go further – making a dent in food waste! We Don’t Waste holds these values at the core of our mission, knowing that people need healthy food to be successful, and that ending food waste is a way to ensure that all people have access to nutritious food.
We’re particularly excited this month because Denver’s Department of Public Health and Environment (DDPHE) recognizes these values and has named We Don’t Waste as a finalist for the Denver Healthy Communities Award. The other finalist in our category (the “Good Neighbor” award) is Project Angel Heart, an organization with whom we partner closely and are happy to be “up against.”
It’s particularly fitting that Project Angel Heart is the other finalist during National Nutrition Month, because nutrition is essential to what they do. Already this year, We Don’t Waste has provided Project Angel Heart with 28,670 servings of food, helping them stretch their resources further.
Partner Profile: Project Angel Heart
Founded in 1991, Project Angel Heart serves nutritious meals, free of charge, to chronically ill individuals in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs. This year, Project Angel Heart will prepare and deliver an estimated 385,000 medically tailored meals to 3,000 Coloradans living with life-threatening illnesses. Almost 60 percent of people that the organization serves are living in poverty. According to Amy Daly, Marketing & Communications Manager for Project Angel Heart, “Many clients tell us that, before receiving our meals, they would eat just once a day in order to afford their prescriptions.”
Like this year’s National Nutrition Month focus on food as a way to “go further,” Project Angel Heart recognizes that “nutritious food is medicine for people living with life-threatening medical conditions.” Despite the benefits of eating a nutritious diet, preparing healthy foods can be highly difficult when you have limited energy and/or mobility. And, of course, the financial burden of illness is an additional barrier.
When asked what the partnership with We Don’t Waste means to them, Daly noted two benefits. “First, we’ve been able to reduce our food costs by getting access to amazing, healthy ingredients that would otherwise go to waste.” And as an added win-win, Project Angel Heart is able to direct potential donors towards We Don’t Waste when they are approached with food donation that are larger than they can use, ensuring that every pound of food goes towards feeding hungry people.
There’s a lot to love about February at We Don’t Waste. Our biggest news is that our 1,000-sq-ft refrigeration system is up and running. We were busier than ever in January, continuing to install racking and set up our new office space, and still managed to surpass our numbers from January 2017 by more than 260,000 servings of food!
As we continue to grow our impact, we’re so thankful for our many partners that make this possible. One new partnership that we’re excited about is at Denver’s South High School, where community members, school volunteers and a local nonprofit, Food for Thought, collaborate to run a Friday food pantry for students. Serving over 100 students a week, the South High School Food Pantry is a way to ensure that hunger doesn’t have to hit home for high school-aged students. They follow a choice model, allowing students to select the items and amounts of food that they then take home to their families. Since the beginning of 2018, We Don’t Waste has provided 4,670 servings of food to the pantry, allowing students to access items like fresh fruit, vegetables, and yogurt.
South High School’s student body is made up of students from 62 countries, according to a September 2017 article in the Denver Post. Designated as a “newcomer school,” South High School accepts students who may not have formal education or might not speak English. Many of the students are immigrants and refugees, sometimes having fled oppressive governments and wars. Whether they’re rebuilding their lives in the US or were born here in Denver, students should not have to go without healthy, fresh food, and this is essential to our mission at We Don’t Waste. Thanks to all of the South High School volunteers, community members and Food for Thought for making the pantry happen, allowing us to to feed more of Denver’s youth.
Meet Chef Troy Guard
Chef Troy Guard is one of the best chefs out there, but don’t take our word for it. The Hawaii native has been named one of the “Great Regional Chefs of America” by the James Beard Foundation. He’s the force behind several Denver restaurants, including Tag, Los Chingones, Guard and Grace, Tag Burger Bar and Mister Tuna – with more on the way!
After finishing college and going on to train at each of La Costa Resort’s five well-respected restaurants in San Diego, he returned to Hawaii and soon became sous chef to the famed Roy Yamaguchi, whose fusion restaurants blend California, French, and Japanese traditions. After nearly a decade with Yamaguchi, he refined his unique Pacific Rim cooking style as Chef de Cuisine at internationally acclaimed Doc Cheng’s in Singapore.
Since coming to Denver, he’s been a force to be reckoned with, opening a slew of well-loved restaurants in the area. And he’s just getting started.
Lucky for us, Guard will be bringing his talents to We Don’t Waste’s annual Fill A Plate for Hunger Presented by CoBank as our “chef extraordinaire”. We can’t wait to see what delicious dishes he’ll be accessing for all our guests from the other great chefs of Denver.
Don’t have tickets yet? It’s not too late!
Go Shopping This August and Support We Don’t Waste
Like shopping? This one’s for you.
We’ve teamed up with Denver’s own Kismet boutique to raise money for We Don’t Waste throughout the month of August. If you head into one of Kismet’s Denver-area stores this month, you can help fight food insecurity while updating your wardrobe with new clothes, jewelry, and accessories. Win-win!
Here’s how it works:
- Check out a Kismet store this August.
- Round up the price of your purchase to the next dollar—the change will go to We Don’t Waste!
- Kismet will match your donation.
Happy shopping, and many thanks for your support!