While many of us come home after work, plop down on our leather couches and turn on our 72-inch flat-screen TVs, there are thousands of Americans sitting on concrete sidewalks, shivering as they nuzzle their chins further into their old, dirty jackets. While we laugh along to the laugh track on 2 and a Half Men, their eyes tear as the wind blows sharply across their face and sends chills down their backs. And after we eat half of the large pizza and order of breadsticks we ordered from Domino’s Pizza, we shrug as we throw the rest in the trash can. “It’ll just get old,” we tell one another. “No one wants the leftovers.” Rarely do we think of the people on the other side of town in that moment, the people rummaging through the Italian restaurant’s dumpster. Looking for that night’s leftovers. Anything that will fill their bellies—a breadstick, a piece of pizza, anything.
A New Low
According to USAToday.com, a record number of 44 million people are enrolled in the governments’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Many Americans recognize the program as our country’s food stamp program, which is federally funded, but administered by the states.
Stepping in and assisting are food banks, soup kitchens, and food rescue organizations. According to Wikipedia, a food rescue is “…the practice of safely retrieving edible food that would otherwise go to waste, and distributing it to those in need.” Often, food at farms, restaurants, farmers markets, or grocery stores is edible but not saleable, (perhaps it’s past its “sell by” date, for example); other times, the food is perfect to eat, but the restaurant bought too much of it, or has scraps of meat or fish from a byproduct of a dish made. This is when a food rescue comes into the equation, saving it from a dumpster (when it comes from a restaurant), or saving it from being plowed under (when coming from a farm). When food is saved from a farm, it is called “gleaning”, which essentially means gathering crops that would traditionally rot or be plowed under after harvest. The Society of St. Andrew, (or SoSA) which began in 1979, is the largest gleaning network in the nation, averaging about 30,000 volunteers each year to contribute and glean over 18 million pounds of food. This food goes straight to those in need within 48 hours of picking, according to the Society of St. Andrews’ website. SoSA works with many different charities as well, such as Feeding America, and not only focuses on hunger in the United States, but across the world. The impact of this food rescue, started over thirty years ago, has been phenomenal.
How Hunger is Affected in Indianapolis
The impact of hunger in Indianapolis is astounding; while many think that this is a problem that only big cities have, such as New York City and Los Angeles, the economy has hit Indiana hard and its impact on its residents has affected many. Luckily, Indianapolis has two large food rescues that are doing a great job of recruiting volunteers to collect, package, and distribute the food to our city’s less fortunate. Food Rescue and Second Helpings are both Indianapolis-based food rescues, relying on volunteers each day to help pick up food from various locations around the city, help in the kitchen, and deliver to places around the city as well. At Second Helpings, they actually have a culinary class, where they train volunteers who are interested in learning how to cook and want to be more involved in volunteering. The class is free, so they also train some of those who are less fortunate, creating chefs out of those whose dreams may have been lost for a period of time. But with this chance, that dream may be back.
Join us next time on our blog, as we continue with our post on the benefits of teaming up with food rescue organizations…