The Vermont Foodbank plays an integral role in significantly reducing food waste in Vermont, ensuring that quality, edible food stays out of landfills and goes to feed hungry Vermonters.
In 2016, we will rescue over 4 million pounds of food from producers and retailers in Vermont, a 60% increase over 2015. This is food that would otherwise fill landfills or go to compost facilities around the state. The food that the Vermont Foodbank rescues represents an incredible 36% of all the food we anticipate distributing in 2016.
Retailers like Hannaford and Walmart, and producers like Vermont Creamery and Vermont Smoke and Cure, have long been food-rescue partners of the Vermont Foodbank. These partners have managed food rescue programs with the Foodbank that include regularly scheduled pick-ups and donation reporting. The pick-ups are frequently conducted by a special group of the Foodbank’s network partners called Retail Partner Agencies or RPAs. The RPAs pick-up at retail and producer locations up to five days per week, providing the local agency with a steady stream of high quality, varied product which is distributed locally, in many cases the same day as it is picked up.
How do the Vermont Foodbank’s retail partners feel about providing the Foodbank with rescued food?
Bob Molinario, the store manager of the Hannaford in Bradford, Vermont, sums it up nicely:
“Hannaford Associates take real pride in working with the Vermont Foodbank and its affiliates to rescue meat, produce, deli products and other nutritious items that otherwise might go to waste. By working together as Vermonters, we can solve the problem of hunger in our state and make sure that all our neighbors have access to the nutritious food they need.”
The growth of the Foodbank’s food rescue program can be attributed to a number of factors including a focus by the Foodbank on developing new donated food sources and the passage of Act 148, Vermont’s universal recycling law.
Traditionally, the Foodbank has relied upon national donations as a major source of donated food, routed through Feeding America from large multi-national producers. In the past year, this source of donations has decreased drastically thereby forcing the Foodbank to be more creative in our pursuit of good quality, healthy product.
Food rescue is a logical focus since it benefits Vermont in two ways: it removes product from the state’s waste stream and it increases the Foodbank’s ability to assist households in need.
In 2012, the Vermont Legislature unanimously passed Act 148, a universal recycling and composting law that offers Vermonters a new set of systems and tools for keeping as much as possible out of the landfill. The law encourages businesses and residents to prioritize their waste diversion practices first by reducing waste and then by diverting consumable food to outlets such as the Foodbank.
By 2020, all Vermont businesses and residents will be required to divert all food waste from landfills, thereby affording the Foodbank with an incredible opportunity to further grow our food rescue program. The Foodbank is working closely with the Agency for Natural Resources and their partners to ensure that Vermont’s charitable food system is getting the most out of the implementation of Act 148.
The continued improvement and expansion of the Foodbank’s food rescue program is one of our main priorities. The Foodbank, working together with our Retail Partner Agencies, retail and producer food rescue partners, and the Agency of Natural Resources and their partners, will continue to work toward long-term sustainable solutions to eliminating unnecessary food waste in Vermont.
When you support the Vermont Foodbank, you support the trucks, staff and infrastructure that puts these food rescues to good use! Please consider making a gift to the Vermont Foodbank today.