By the time Alex and I open the red van car doors, it’s still dark. My housemates are all sleeping and I’ve somehow managed to remain vertical despite the few hours of sleep the night before. But still, it’s time for a Whole Foods run. It’s time to salvage hundreds of pounds of food before it is discarded in a dumpster and tuned into a feast for rats and pigeons. I’m new to movie editing, note the “raw” footage and “easy” jazz background. Ha.
Despite the need to get up at 7am every Monday morning, I look forward to the receiving the renewed treasure to come from Whole Foods. Will it be crate after crate of grapes today? Gourmet crackers? Loaves of artesian bread? Guacamole? Alex and I never know what we’ll get, but whatever it is, we are grateful. We will deliver a van load of food to the St. Francis Catholic Worker and then to the Cornerstone Community Center in Edgewater where the food will then be dispersed to feed those who go without.
Of course, we aren’t the only ones saving slightly expired and damaged food. Monday through Friday, the Chicago Food Depository set out in refrigerated trucks to rescue prepared and perishable foods that would otherwise end up in the dumpster. the Food Rescue Team, an orgranizaed and experienced operation (since 1978), picks up high quality and nutritious food from grocery stores, restaurants, corporate cafeterias and caterers to then deliver it directly to Food Depository agencies that use the items into their feeding programs for the hungry.
Last year, Food Rescue program turned more than 46 million pounds of food into meals for Cook County’s hungry last year. That’s the equivalent to 95,000 meals every day! These food donations serve soup kitchens, shelters and pantries.
Another worthy organization, Food Not Bombs, is a worldwide, grassroots, political movement of over 175 autonomous chapters. Each Food Not Bombs group serves free food to people in need and in support of political organizing efforts.
The Chicago Food Not Bombs chapter recovers healthy, nutritious, vegetarian food that would have otherwise been discarded and cooks and serves it to people in immediate need. Food Not Bombs recognizes the problem isn’t too little production, it’s poor and inequitable distribution. As an alternative food distribution organization, Food Not Bombs is intent on building sustainable community food sharing programs. Volunteers (including cooks!) are always in need.