What is food recovery?
The term food recovery refers to the collection of unsaleable food products from wholesale or retail grocery stores, restaurants or catering events. This food includes both perishable and non-perishable foods such as produce, meat, dairy, bakery and dry goods, as well as prepared foods and gleaned produce.
Why is food recovery important?
The goal of our food recovery program is three-fold:
- Reducing the carbon-footprint of food waste: When food is thrown into the trash, it ends up rotting in landfills, where it is unable to properly decompose, creating massive amounts of methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas.
- Feeding food insecure community members: Food insecurity is the reason this organization exists. Washington County, Arkansas is the second most food insecure county in the third most food insecure state in the nation. With this food, we can provide healthy, nutritious food to community members through our 10 partner organizations that use the food to stock their pantries and/or serve hot meals to those in need.
- Educating the public on the multifaceted issues of food waste and food insecurity: Food recovery is the most immediate and direct service that we can provide for our community to help combat these systematic issues. Through this program, we want to not only do the work of diverting and redistributing the food, but also educate individuals and families on what they can do in their own homes and communities to help combat these major problems.
Our program and partners
Tri Cycle Farms' food recovery program began in 2015, when we started collecting produce and coffee grounds from Ozark Natural Foods to add to our compost.
In 2016, we started a partnership with Whole Foods Market, where we made a plan to pick up food from the store three times a week. Both Tri Cycle and Whole Foods quickly realized how great of an impact this program was making and together we decided to expand the number of days and amount of food we would recover.
Since 2017, we have expanded the program to five days a week. At 8am Monday-Friday, rain or shine, 2-3 volunteers drive to Whole Foods to load their cars full of food to then bring back to the Rock House to be weighed and sorted before delivering to our partner organizations, who currently include 7 Hills Day Center, St. James Baptist Church, Seeds That Feed, Washington Elementary, Potter's House/Wet Cement, Trinity United Methodist Church, Free Little Pantry, and Life Source.
Part of the reason our program has been so successful with few resources is because we are dedicated to keeping good relationships with both our donating and receiving partner organizations. When we bring the food back to the Rock House, we unload the crates of food that have already been sorted into one of eight categories: Bakery, Dairy, Deli, Eggs, Meat, Plants, Produce and Salvage. You can see photos of what our program currently looks like in the gallery below.
Do you support our program?
Please consider making a donation to help us renovate our garage into a short-term (24-48 hour) storage space. Due to scheduling issues with receiving partner organizations, we need to occasionally have the space to temporarily store food in a safe place. Since our partners have different needs, not all of them are able to use certain types of food products. For example, once we expand our program to including prepared foods, we cannot take multiple trays of meal-ready food to a partner unless they are able to serve a meal with it within a day or two of delivery. Having the ability to store this food in a large fridge or freezer will allow us to make sure that this food is not wasted at the end of it's life cycle. This is just one way in which we plan to grow and propel our program into the future.