Tag Archives: hunger

Food Rescuing Organizations: How Restaurants and Foodservices Can Help Combat Hunger

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.”

Second Helpings has over 600 volunteers, 30 of which work in their facility each day.

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

Each volunteer from Second Helpings is trained on what food can be brought back and understand what is safe to eat.

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.


The visit to Second Helpings was incredible.  It’s amazing to see so much food that would normally go to waste be put to good use.

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.

Should Schools Be Serving Children 3 Meals a Day?

We all remember the images from the show, “Leave It to Beaver,” in which Wally and Beav, the two teenagers, would come home from school with their mother waiting—apron tied snugly around her waist—offering an after-school snack consisting of a turkey sandwich and glass of milk for each of the boys.  Dinner would be in the oven, of course, usually a nice meatloaf, with corn, mashed potatoes, and a pie perched in the window to cool down.  No matter what the case, Dad would always make it home for dinner, laughing, smiling, sharing stories and eating—TOGETHER.

Times Have Changed

Oh, how times have changed.  It’s 2012, and unfortunately, in most cases, both Mom and Dad are forced to work, if their lucky enough to find a job.  The recession has caused chaos, driving up the cost of living.  According to the Huffington Post, 15 percent, or 46 million, of Americans live below the poverty line.  If you include those who are living paycheck to paycheck, it equals out to be about half of the American population.  Unfortunately, this translates to food allowance as well, resulting in many families having only one meal a day.

Before 2010, the USDA School Meal Programs (including the School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program) offered breakfast and lunch to low-income children at a free or reduced price, those children often went home to a pantry with little to no food.  According to the website strength.org, hunger affects students’ ability to concentrate, makes them more susceptible to sickness, and affects their emotional health.  Schools nationwide began to notice the impact of hunger on those affected by the recession and knew something had to be done.  Thankfully, President Obama stepped up to the plate in 2010, and introduced the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, which expanded the afterschool meal program to all 50 states, improved the area rules so that more kids were eligible for the program, extended the program into the summer when school was out, and improved the quality of the food to include healthier choices.  Before the program was introduced, only 13 states were covered, and the majority of states only gave out snacks.  With the act signed into law, there will be about 21 million additional dinners served by 2015.  Advocates for the poor praise Obama for signing the law; yet, there are also critics that think the law is taking away from time that needs to be spent with the family.  As Rush Limbaugh stated, “Why even send the kids home?”

But Does Family Dinner Equal Better Outcome for the Kids?

A paper written by Washington State University professors, Martha Marino, MA, RD, CD and Sue Butkus, PhD, RD, focused on the importance of eating meals together as a family.  According to their research, the benefits of eating together include: better communication, better school performance and better overall adjustment; they were less depressed, less likely to do drugs, exhibit difficulty at school and get in trouble in school.  They also found that those children who ate meals with their families ate more fruits and vegetables, drank more juice and less soda.  Mothers in the Nutrition Education Network of Washington’s focus groups said, “When we eat together, we eat better.”

School meals have also proven in the past to be higher in fat, saturated fat, and sodium—but so is the diet of the average American nowadays.  Thankfully, the Obama administration noticed in increase in obesity in children and in 2010, First Lady, Michelle Obama, introduced the “Let’s Move” campaign, which emphasized healthy families, communities and schools by exercise and good nutrition.  The USDA has now placed guidelines that will improve the nutritional quality of school meals on a daily basis.  The First Lady announced on February 10, 2012 that 2,862 schools have now met the HealthierUS School Challenge, surpassing the goals of this key component of her Let’s Move! initiative.

The Debate Continues

So while the debate still goes on as to whether schools should be stepping in to serve three meals a day to children, at least those children least fortunate than others are now getting healthier food and going home with full tummies, as opposed to the alternative.

As Kate Lareau, a Memphis-based not-for-profit grant writer that works with people in a south Memphis housing project, said, “Do we need to provide all three meals? I’m not sure,” she said. “But I personally know children who don’t get any food after they get home. I don’t want those kids to be hungry for sure.”

Sign Your Restaurant Up For Dine Out For No Kid Hungry

Image from Dine Out Website

September is just around the corner, which means it is time to start gearing up for this year’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry™ (formally known as the Great American Dine Out).

This year’s event will be September 18-24.

With childhood obesity being such a heavily discussed topic lately, we can’t forget the over 17 million children who face hunger each day in America.

Dine Out For No Kid Hungry™ is a national event and a great way for both restaurants and diners to combat child hunger together.  It is a part of  Share Our Strength’s national campaign to end childhood hunger in America.

Last year, over 4000 restaurants helped to raise over $1.5 million.

This year, Share Our Strength’s Senior Manager of Communications, Catherine Puzo, says their goal is to raise over $3 million by engaging 5000 restaurants around the country.

Image from Dine Out Website

“Restaurants that have participated in the past tell us that participating in Dine Out For No Kid Hungry—especially when they register early enough to plan a well-thought promotion around it, and market it to their customers—engages employees around a relevant cause, connects them to their community, and, depending on the type of promotion developed, increases sales,” she says.

Puzo also mentions many restaurants were successful in gaining repeat business by using bounce back coupons.  So even though we’re still in July, now is the time to sign up and start planning.

Restaurants participating, or interested in participating, in this year’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry™ can go here to learn how to become involved.  They also provide detailed information for both multi-unit or independently owned establishments.

When planning, they advise restaurants to make a tangible goal such as a specific dollar amount, number of redeemed coupons or sales from the promotion. As Puzo said, bounce back coupons have been a great way previous participants have benefited.

They also recommend restaurants use both social and traditional media to help promote and educate both employees and customers.

Image from Dine Out Website

“Invite them to be a part of the solution, too, by supporting your efforts,” they say—followed by an extensive list of ideas to get a restaurant started, shown on this page.  There is also a Participant Resource Center, so your restaurant will not be left in the dark and you will have everything you need.

In-store materials will be available to order starting August 1.

Donations from Dine Out For No Kid Hungry™ have helped provide meals of nutritional value for after school programs, feed kids lunch during the summer, provide more access to school breakfast, help families meet nutritional needs and expand access to programs such as SNAP  (food stamps) and WIC (the Women, Infants and Children program). It has also helped teach families how to provide healthy and tasty food while on a limited budget.

If you are looking for other ways to participate, you can become a sponsor or donate to the cause.  Some of this year’s national sponsors include Sysco, American Express, Ecolab, USA Today and the National Restaurant Association.

A few restaurants participating in this year’s event, who are also Central customers, include Dave & Buster’s, Monical’s Pizza, Buffalo Wild Wings and Kona Grill.

To learn more, explore the Dine Out website, visit them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and take the pledge to help end childhood hunger in American by 2015.

Image from Dine Out Website