Keeping Our Shelves Stocked: Part 1
September is Hunger Action Month! We at Metro Caring want to regale you with tales from our Food Access Team. In order to keep our market stocked with nutritious, delicious items, we rely on partnerships within our community. Each week this month, we'll highlight the creative ways we are working together to feed Denver.
Today's story comes from Sarah, our Food Access Manager...
Imagine a 50-gallon tub full of slightly bruised apples and overripe bananas being tipped into a trash compactor. Three years ago, that was the scene every day in the back room of the grocery store where I worked. Employees would walk the aisles seeking out any less-than-perfect produce and tossing it into huge bins to be destroyed. Nobody liked it, but there was nothing else we could do. We couldn’t sell it, and we only donated non-perishables.
There was something I didn’t understand, though. When I volunteered at Metro Caring, I saw shelves full of wonderful fresh, refrigerated items and produce from places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. If they could do it, why couldn’t we?
I started researching on my own and found out about the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996 that protects donors from liability. I learned about all the ways expiration dates can be misleading. When I found out about a contest where employees could submit dreams that the company could help them achieve, I knew what mine would be: starting a perishable foods donation program at my store.
When I got the call telling me I was a finalist, I was shocked. I was even more shocked a few days later when I got a call from corporate saying they were pulling me out of the competition. They had to pull me out, they said, because the donation program I wanted already existed; the people at my store just didn’t know about it.
I spent six months working with corporate and store management to streamline the donation process, create training materials, and educate employees on what could be donated and how much their donations matter to places like Metro Caring. Even now, two years after I left that job to work at Metro Caring full-time, seeing the food that comes to us through that program still makes me smile. It’s an experience that gave me a deep respect for the ongoing work it takes for grocery rescue partners like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to keep their food donation programs thriving.
We are grateful to Sarah and her team for their innovation and dedication to keeping our shelves stocked with healthy food!