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