Environment: Making it better wherever you are
Don't Let it Go to Waste
Did you know that nearly half of the food grown and produced in the United States goes to waste? This is estimated by the United States Department of Agriculture & National Resource Defense Council.
What if you could round up some of this food before it becomes inedible and pass it out to those in need? Well, I know a guy in Seattle, David Schooler, a fellow Rotarian, who leads an organization, Rotary First Harvest, to address the problem of food waste. By the way, Rotary, in case you don’t know, is an international service organization. It’s for people who like to volunteer in their communities and make life better for their neighbors.
Rotary First Harvest has been gathering up surplus food in the Pacific Northwest and distributing it to those suffering from food scarcity. Over 50 million Americans visit their local food banks on a regular basis to get much needed food for their families. The working poor often have to make choices like paying the utility bill or buying food. That should not have to be a reality for anyone in a country that wastes half its food supply.
Here's the story from their website of how the idea for Rotary First Harvest came to be:
In 1982, Norm Hillis, a banker and member of the Rotary Club of the University District, urged his fellow club members to find a way to help hungry people in the community.
The first projects borrowed from the old Victory Garden that gained popularity in World War II. Backyard gardeners around around the area planted extra produce that was then collected at local fire stations and delivered to programs (mainly in churches) that were helping to feed families and individuals in need.
In 1983, Norm, with the help of Mike Shanahan, grew the new concept into a Rotary District 5030 project. Mike, who was Chief of Police for the University of WA, used an “all points bulletin” to encourage law enforcement officials across WA state to help locate produce that was going to waste. Within days, Mike received calls from officials reporting tens of thousands of pounds of produce available and told Mike to “come and get ‘em.” Using his phone and his Rotary connections, Mike found donated trucking to pick up the produce and bring it back to the Seattle area for distribution. This model of collaboration to connect existing resources for produce recovery still guides our work today. Over the years, many remarkable individuals have been involved with building Rotary First Harvest – all with the same goal of providing healthy fruits and vegetables to those in need.
Rotary First Harvest connects farmers, truckers, food banks and volunteers for hunger relief. Since 1982, they have gathered and distributed 183,770,928 pounds of food.
To find out how you can replicate this idea for your community you can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org