The simple lack of refrigeration or freezer space is often cited as a major bottleneck in recovering and redistributing surplus food to where it is most needed. For the past three years, Community Food Rescue (CFR) has awarded mini-grants to its members to increase their capacity to serve more people in the community who experience hunger. Food donor, Red Wiggler Community Farm, and food assistance organization, Liberty Grove United Methodist Church (UMC), are among this year’s recipients.
Since our start in Sept. 2015, Community Food Rescue’s (CFR) growing network—now 200 members strong — has redirected 744,487 lbs. of rescued food, representing about 496,000 meals, to people experiencing hunger. As we plan our programming for 2017, please take this short CFR interest survey to let us know how we can make the most of your CFR experience.
Step onto the Asbury Methodist Village (AMV) campus and you just feel it. The camaraderie. The possibility. It’s a welcoming environment created by the energetic, service-oriented people who live and work at this 130-acre Gaithersburg, Md., continuing care retirement community. In 2016, Asbury and its partner Sodexo, which provides facilities and dining management on the campus, committed to helping the broader Montgomery County community through their new partnership with Community Food Rescue (CFR).
Three times each week, Asbury’s chefs pack up surplus, healthy, and safe prepared food—fish, chicken, and beef entrees, rice, pasta, potatoes and vegetable side dishes and soups. All the food is frozen and easy to transport by CFR volunteer food runners. The meals are delivered to CFR network food assistance organizations including, Seneca Heights Apartments, permanent supportive housing, The Montgomery Coalition for the Homeless serving their men’s shelter, Family Services, Inc. serving clients receiving mental health care and to Interfaith Works serving formerly homeless women with mental disabilities in transitional housing.“Our clients just love the food and we’re very appreciative of how delicious and healthy this food is for our clients,” said Sarah Cherner, Program Assistant at Interfaith Works.
Thanksgiving is over and for many of us getting creative with leftovers – or wishing we had more of them – is top of mind. But as we continue this season of festive holiday gatherings and rejoice with colleagues, friends and family, we should remember that as many as 70,000 people in Montgomery County are worried about where their next meal will come from.
The Community Food Rescue network and innovative matching app is helping to close the hunger gap in our community by connecting food businesses of all kinds – catering companies, food markets, farms, restaurants, schools and more – with those who will benefit greatly from their unserved or unsold food.
This holiday season, whether you’re a local business, an individual, family or nonprofit looking for ways to help struggling neighbors, CFR has some easy suggestions for how to put more meaning into your holiday! (Bonus benefit – you’ll also be reducing food waste, a huge global problem that contributes to climate change!)
Manna Food Center was honored to be awarded Bethesda Magazine’s prestigious Green Award for their program, Community Food Rescue, at the 7th Annual Bethesda Green Gala on October 6th. Of 45 nominees, Manna joins five other businesses, non-profits, and individuals recognized for making a difference in our community. CFR won in the category of Innovation-nonprofit for, ‘green products and/or services that is having or is poised to have a significant and measurable impact on sustainability either locally or on a broader scale.’
“It’s a sad fact that in our county of many riches, 1 in 12 people may not know where their next meal will come from,” said Jackie DeCarlo, executive director of Manna Food Center.
Our hope is that this wonderful Bethesda Magazine award will highlight the progress that can be made when communities committed to ending hunger and greening our environment come together.–Jackie DeCarlo
While Manna’s mission is to eliminate hunger in Montgomery County, the Community Food Rescue network of food donor businesses, food assistance organizations and volunteer food runners, is also tackling a local and global environmental problem.
While Community Food Rescue’s primary focus is to rescue and redirect good food to people, we support EPA’s food pyramid so that food that is unfit for human consumption goes to animals and food scraps are processed into compost. Montgomery County has an ambitious goal to recycle 70% of its solid waste by the year 2020. The largest component of all solid waste is food waste, comprising 146,000 tons (23%) per year.
To reduce food waste and achieve this goal, the county seeks a private company to operate a processing facility to compost food waste. The facility would start with commercial sector food waste processing 20,000 tons per year and then ramp up by adding a single-family curbside collection program, processing an additional 10,000 tons per year.
This is very exciting news following on the heels of Council member Roger Berliner’s introducing Montgomery County Bill 28-16, which would create a Strategic Plan to Advance Composting and Food Waste Diversion. CFR supports the bill and provided public testimony last July along with many other supporters. The bill is moving through the legislative process with a Council work session scheduled on October 27th.
While this municipal initiative winds its way through our county government, CFR mini-grant recipient, growingSOUL, has taken a high-tech approach to small-scale food scrap composting.
Manna Food Center, Montgomery County’s largest food bank and distribution center, serves almost 60% of the 70,000 Montgomery County residents who are food insecure. Who are the other unsung heroes in our community that receive and redistribute recovered food to those who experience hunger? Last summer I visited many of the growing network of Community Food Rescue (CFR) food assistance organizations to see their operations, learn about the people they serve, and help them get the most out of CFR’s resources. I continue sharing these unsung heroes in Part 2.