With obesity rates as high as they are, it makes it easy to forget the millions of Americans, both adults and children, who struggle with hunger on a daily basis. There are my ways to help combat hunger and as we learned in our Tuesday blog, food rescue organizations are one way restaurants and foodservices can make a difference.
What Do Food Rescue Organizations Do?
In January, we spoke with Ben Shine, communications and development manager at Second Helpings of Indianapolis, to learn about food rescuing and their involvement with the Super Bowl.
“It’s anything overstocked, over prepared or unused,” Shine said. “Anything that hasn’t been served to the public and handled by food safe handlers.”
Food rescuers get the unused food from a variety of sources such as restaurants, distributors and grocery stores.
Restaurants Getting Involved
According to a recent article from ABC 2 news in Chicago, recent statistics show 30 to 50 percent of the world’s food does not get eaten and ends up in landfills.
Restaurants and foodservices are some of many places where food is wasted, and by teaming up with a local food rescuing organization, that perfectly fine, unused food can be saved and served to someone who needs it.
Finding a food rescue in your area can be as simple as a quick Google search. There is also a section of the USDA’s website that provides information about some of the country’s largest food rescuing organizations, as well as the USDA Food Recovery Hotline: 1-800-GLEAN-IT.
A Look at a Food Rescuing Organization: Second Helpings of Indianapolis
Second Helpings is a non-profit food rescuing organization in Indianapolis. On Tuesday March 27, we (Content Coordinators Ashley Cobb and Tracey Rector) visited the facility for a tour and to learn more about what Second Helpings does.
The organization was started in 1998 by three Indianapolis chefs: Kristen Cordoza Kienker, Bob Koch and Jean Paison. Today, Second Helpings rescues over 1.7 million pounds of food each year and delivers around 3,000 meals to over 60 social service agencies. This saves those agencies approximately $2 million each year.
“We don’t go search for hungry people to feed, or open up to let them come eat. You see, these agencies already know where to find them and what their needs are,” Shine explained. “Plus, the food we provide these organizations saves them tens of thousands of dollars a year in providing full food service to their clients.”
But they don’t only rescue food; Second Helpings also has a free culinary job training program for the unemployed or underemployed and places 85 percent of graduates in local foodservice positions.
“We have our culinary training class led by Chef Sam Brown,” said Second Helpings Communications and Development Coordinator, Emily Cutka.
Chef Brown is a graduate of class No. 6, and Second Helpings recently held their 66th graduation. This last class had 12 graduates and Cutka said there have been 483 graduates so far.
“Half the day is spent in the classroom and the other half is spent in the kitchen,” she said. “Guest chefs from well-known restaurant around Indy come in sometimes as well.”
For Second Helpings, It’s More than Just Rescuing Food
They also recycle and compost. A company comes in to pick up the recycling and compost and Cutka mentioned some of the remaining compost is used for their herb garden in their backyard.
Also, each volunteer cooking the food is very aware of where the food will be delivered that day and adjusts how it’s cooked accordingly.
“For example, if it’s going to places where children are the main demographic, the volunteers will be sure to cut up the food into smaller pieces,” Cutka said. “Or if the food is going to Wheeler Mission, where adult men are the base demographic, they will be more likely to prepare something more hearty.”
And thanks to some private donations, Second Helpings has recently doubled their capacity and now have a more streamlined process for their day-to-day tasks.
Second Helpings is just one of many food rescuing organizations in the country and is definitely a great way for restaurants and foodservices to help combat hunger.
To get involved, search your area or visit the USDA website.
All photos taken during our visit to Second Helpings. View our Facebook page to view all photos during our visit.