This tool kit is meant to be an aid in reclaiming otherwise wasted food and serve communities this unwanted, unused, excess, not for profit food products that have the potential and ability to feed hungry people throughout the world. You will be amazed and disgusted by the amount of good food that is being thrown away. There is so much waste because of:
1. Lack of time for businesses to seek and deliver food donations.
2. Fear of lawsuits.
3. Food safety regulation and waste standards.
Here are some suggested steps to starting your own food reclamation project. Again, these are only suggestions and apply to those individuals especially interested in serving & distributing food to others. Mainly, you are not just collecting for yourself although you will benefit hugely from these efforts. For example, we have found it possible to sustain ourselves entirely from donations for Serving Artists, with the exceptions of dairy products. Be creative and adapt these steps to meet your own, personal needs:
Step 1| Declare your mission statement.
Note: Think about answering the following questions:
-Who are you impacting? Is it the local community, narrow region, or entire state. -Who is the audience? Homeless, low-income, artists, immigrants, single mothers, etc.
Note: This is a serving project. It will take time on your part and require dedication, skills, and effort.
Step 2| Design your support system.
Note: Consider the following:
- Who are you asking for support from? Farmers? Bakeries? Markets? Produce stands? Large corporations like grocery stores? Food distributors?
-What are you asking for? What is the quality of food (organic, local)? What is the quantity of food (how much will you use without creating more waste)?
- Where does the range of support system begin and end?. How far away are you willing to get food from? Set a mile radius.
-How are you getting food? Are you willing to pick up from donators/farms or do you want food dropped off (tip: picking up gets greater results). Have you heard of gleaning (see step )?
-When can get you get food? What pick up or drop off time works with your schedule? A regular routine aids in success.
-How are you going to serve the food? Serve meals out of your home, in a public location (ie: park) or mobile deliveries to shelters or homes?
Step 3: Build a support directory.
Note: Create a list and map of farms, markets, stores, bakeries, etc.
- Search online (state sites), in phonebooks, or in community newsletters or pamphlets.
-Use keywords of organic, natural, farm, orchard, garden, etc.
-Make note of stores name, owners name, address, phone number, and what type of category they fit into (ie: fruits, veggies, bread, dairy, meats, herbs etc.).
-Make a huge list! We mapped out about 50 locations in our area and received routine pick up dates from 10! Don't give up!
Step 4: Contact your locations.
Note: Phone calls are the quickest, but walk-ins are helpful and emails are usually requested to send more information.
-Don't be afraid to introduce yourself with a professional title that increases your legitimacy. For example we always say, "We are Co-Founders of a non-profit project."
-Have your "sales pitch" ready! We suggest to type it out, ready to send to those who are interested!
-Use language that makes them feel you are doing them a favor because YOU ARE!
-Use phrases such as, "We would like to collect your unwanted, unused, excess, otherwise wasted food."
Note: Be respectful.
-Arrange a pick up or gleaning day and time. Don't be late and call if you can't make it!
-Depending on where you live, be prepared to answer the question of whether you are associated with a church.
-In the beginning, make sure to call prior to arrival until you get into a daily/weekly/monthly routine.
Step 5a: Be ready for pick up/delivery!
Note: This means the following:
1. You are responsible for taking care of the food.
-Preparation (cooking). Have some recipe/cookbooks ready!
-Preservation (canning, freezing, storing,) Note: every food is different. Research! The information and instructions are out there! Have containers, freezer bags, canning supplies ready!
-Composting kitchen scraps excess waste and possibly returning that soil to a garden! If you don't have a compost bin, consider building one!
2. Be aware of what fruits & veggies are in season!
3. Have a vehicle (truck, car, bike) and container (bag, box, basket) ready to gather food in!
Step 5b. Be ready to glean!
Note: Gleaning has been done for centuries. Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest.
- Know harvest dates and seasons.
-Schedule an appointment ahead of time.
-Wear work clothing.
-Recruit a team to help (in most cases).
-Take lots of containers, boxes or bags to fill!
Step 6. Preparing and serving!
Note: This is the fun part!
-You get to eat and feed others!
Step 7. Thank those who donated to you!
Note: Make them feel like your working together is truly impacting the community.
-Tell them about the meals you have served!
-How many people you have fed!
-This will make them think twice before throwing out waste in the future!
If you have any questions or concerns, please comment! Good luck on starting your project and let us know about them!
Sarah & Dana