Keeping Our Shelves Stocked: Part 2
In Week 2 of Hunger Action Month, we continue our tales from our Food Access Team with a story from Jess, our Food Access Coordinator...
We root for the underdog food here at Metro Caring.
Tom-ay-toe, tom-ah-toe, po-tay-toe, pot-ah-toe! No matter how you say it, we want to give every bite a chance to fulfill its destiny and make it into someone’s happy tummy.
I’m the Food Access Coordinator at Metro Caring, which means I coordinate access to food. In the warehouse and market combined, I sometimes answer 15 questions per minute during a shift. That’s 4 seconds per question. I drink a lot of coffee.
From volunteers, I get things like...
“Is this carrot bad?”
“What is this supposed to look like?”
“What do you cook this with?”
“How do we store this?”
“Does this have too much sugar?”
And from shoppers, mostly...
“Do you have any...?”
That’s the one that stops me.
“Do you have any…?”
Organic. Low sugar. Whole grain. Low sodium. Lean cut.
The nature of a market run on food donations is that the shelves are oftentimes stocked with less variety than what is needed to make up a healthy, full set of meals for the individuals and families who count on us. My heart sinks when I hear the question coming. Sometimes we can find a great alternative, or even a single item treasure to match a shopper request. But what about the next shopper that asks? And the next? The reality is that many times, we just don’t have the variety of foods to match the humble needs of our shoppers.
So when Christopher from Keen One Foods was volunteering one night in the warehouse, he saw exactly where he could help. Halfway through the shift, he snagged me between question-answering frenzies.
“Do you have any…”
(I braced myself.)
“...anyone who regularly donates quinoa?”
Their company has a community give-back program, and they’re ready to give this month. They see our organization as a great fit with their values and mission. They want to help.
We were quite keen on the idea, too!
We traded a few logistic details (“Of course we’ll come pick it up!”) and the next thing you know, our truck rolled up to our dock with over 1,300lbs of beautiful, bulk bags of quinoa. Volunteers began breaking the bulk bags down into family-size bags in the warehouse that same day. Our nutrition team prepared snacks and meals to serve in the welcome center and market to help shoppers know how to prepare the delicious grain with other ingredients found in the market. Christopher and his Keen One team not only gave their time to serve as volunteers, they creatively and kindly routed a portion of their company’s product to provide a staple for hundreds of households in need of healthy, nutrient-dense meals.
We know that a lot of high quality food produced in the United States is lost during the processing, ordering, and shipping processes. We know that a couple broken chicken eggs or butter in a smashed box won’t cut it in retail. We know that an underweight package can’t sell the way a producer needs it to, a funky-looking package can turn off a consumer in a grocery store, and an over-order of product can mean a dumpster full of food down the line.
But this is not bad food.
It just needs someone to believe in it, and give it the right tools, the right love, to get it on its way to the kitchen.
We also know that many companies have the same heart for giving as we do, and they have extra food on hand. Our Metro Caring Fresh Foods Market works best when we work together and we think the same is true of the world. Help us find a home (and a happy belly) for the underdog, funk-ily packaged, underweight and over-produced food.
Thank you to Christopher and his team at Keen One Foods LLC, who saw where they could work alongside our community to provide nutritious food while promoting health and self-sufficiency. You are making a huge difference, one pallet of quinoa at a time!