waste not, want not

Frequently Asked Questions About Lovin’ Spoonfuls and Food Rescue

What is food rescue?
Food rescue involves taking food that is not sellable but is still usable and delivering it to those who need it and can put it to good use. The food we pick up is not spoiled or rotten. On the contrary, the food may not look perfect but is still edible and nutritious!

Where does Lovin’ Spoonfuls rescue food from? Where does the food go after it has been “rescued”?
Lovin’ Spoonfuls works with a number of local grocery stores (including Stop & Shop, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods), produce wholesalers, and local farms. We also work with local restaurants and caterers, although prepared food is the smallest category of food pickups. Lovin’ Spoonfuls focuses on fresh, healthy food: produce, whole grains, and lean protein.

Every weekday, Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ two drivers set out in our refrigerated trucks to pick up excess food from grocery stores, farms, and other food establishments and deliver it to local nonprofit organizations. After they pick up the food, our drivers deliver it to our nonprofit partners including homeless shelters and soup kitchens such as Pine Street Inn, Boston Rescue Mission, and Haley House as well as other social assistance agencies such as Respond and Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

How is Lovin’ Spoonfuls different from a food bank?
Food banks rely on warehouses and other overnight storage facilities to maintain their inventory of non-perishable goods. Lovin’ Spoonfuls utilizes a direct distribution system- we pick up food and deliver it to our beneficiaries that same day. We do not store food because we work with primarily perishable products and we want to ensure that the food is put to use as soon as possible.

How big a problem is food waste?
Food is wasted in enormous proportions, not only in Boston, but also all over the world. Here are some stunning facts about food waste:

  • The amount of food Americans waste every day (forty percent of the food produced) is enough to fill the Rose Bowl stadium in California.
  • Decomposing food in landfills emits methane, a gas that has a twenty-five times more potent effect on global climate change than does carbon dioxide.
  • 300 million barrels of oil and one quarter of total freshwater consumption are used each year to produce food that is ultimately wasted.
  • On a per capita basis, food waste represents 1,400 calories of food per person per day or 150 trillion calories per year.

What are the benefits of food rescue? Isn’t it just easier to compost leftover food?
In addition to keeping food out of landfills and thereby mitigating the negative environmental effects of food waste mentioned above, food rescue helps address other problems such as food insecurity and lack of access to healthy foods.  One in five people in Boston are food insecure, meaning they do not always know where they will find their next meal. Perishable products such as fresh fruits and vegetables are among those products most likely to be wasted.  By making use of this food, food rescue can help people gain access to the types of foods they might not ordinarily be able to afford. While composting is valuable, we believe fresh, healthy food has a higher value than composting, especially when the need is so great.

Why do businesses have such huge amounts of food waste?
There are numerous reasons why businesses waste so much food. Consumer preferences for perfect looking produce cause supermarkets to reject or discard produce with minor superficial imperfections. Supermarkets want to cater to customers’ needs 24-7, which means they must remain fully stocked at all times, even if that results in wasted food. In most cases, it is easier for supermarkets to throw food out at the end of the day than to find another home for it.  That’s where Lovin’ Spoonfuls comes in; we offer a simple, streamlined service for food establishments that offers them a tax break and reduced trash costs and allows us to get that fresh, healthy food to people in need.

How can I contribute? Can I pick up leftover food/volunteer? Will Lovin’ Spoonfuls pick up leftover food from my house?
Unfortunately, Lovin’ Spoonfuls is unable to accept food donations from individuals. Please see the Volunteer section for more information on volunteering and supporting Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ work. You can also contribute by wasting less food in your own home. According to NPR, “If household food waste could be cut in half, a family of four could save $600 a year.”

Here are some tips to reduce personal food waste from food waste expert Jonathan Bloom:

1. Plan your meals before you grocery shop.
2. Make a detailed shopping list and stick to it!
3. Serve reasonable sized portions.
4. Save your leftovers.
5. Eat those leftovers!

Additionally, you can reduce your food waste by storing food properly in your refrigerator and freezer, making greater use of your freezer for items you won’t eat up quickly such as bread, putting older food items in the front of the refrigerator, using clear containers for foods, keeping all food items in sight in the refrigerator, and making an additional trip to the grocery store mid-week to stock up on perishable items, instead of shopping for perishables once a week and wasting some of those items.

Where can I learn more about food waste in America?
One of the best places to learn more about food waste is through Jonathan Bloom’s blog, Wasted Food as well as his excellent book, American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It).