JACKSON, WY —At 10 am on Wednesday, 473 pounds of food is hauled from the Whole Grocer. Instead of catching a ride to the landfill, it’s all piled into the back of a Subaru and driven just around the corner to Hole Food Rescue.
“It’s a bigger haul than usual,” says Hannah Cooley, Director of Operations for HFR. That alone can be a full days worth of rescued food. “But we’re still waiting on loads from Lucky’s and Albertsons,” she explains as she sorts through the boxes. She sorts into piles of tomatoes, apples, potatoes of all varieties, beautiful strawberries… the list goes on.
As for the produce that is not salvageable? They’re literally thrown to the pigs. As the goods are sorted throughout the morning, what cannot be saved goes into the slop bucket. Haderlie Farms collects these bins of compostable vegetables and fruits to feed to their pigs. Any citrus’ that cannot be used go into Haderlie’s compost. It’s a symbiotic relationship, as Haderlie in turn donates a few of their pigs for HFR’s Million Pound Party. An event which celebrates the hard work that the organization does for our community every August.
According to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) up to 40% of food in America never gets consumed. Simultaneously, 1 in 8 Americans struggles to put food on their table. In a recent article in Fortune Magazine, studies by the Economic Policy Institute show that Jackson has been qualified the most economically unequal metro area in the entire country. Between Teton County in Wyoming and Idaho, “the top 1% of earners captured a whopping 68.3% of the income. The bottom 90% of earners, on the other hand, brought home just 17.3% of the income. Those numbers put Jackson way ahead of the next-most-unequal metro area in America: the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk area in Connecticut.”
While dumpster diving at the Whole Grocer in 2013, Ali Dunford-Milburn came upon heaps of perfectly good, edible food being thrown away. It was at that moment that she decided to turn unnecessary waste into positive aid for members of our community in need.
Everyday, a staggering 600 to 800 pounds of food are rescued from our local grocery stores. “We try to keep a pretty day to day turnover,” Cooley explains. “It keeps things fresh.”
On their wall is a calendar of weekly deliveries. These include the Teton Literacy Center, where they drop off snacks for the children, and have a table of payless groceries for parents to choose from when they pick up their kids. Produce such as tomatoes, potatoes, greens and onions that can be used to cook meals at home are available for parents to choose from at this table.
Other organizations include local Fire and EMS, the Conservation Alliance, the Senior Center, Wilderness Learning Center, C-V Ranch, and many more community programs. Each organization has specific needs when it comes to their deliveries. To ensure each box that goes out is properly assembled, HFR have volunteers on “Hub Patrol” who’s job is to pack and deliver the proper boxes to each organization. These boxes can include snacks such as apples, oranges and bananas, as well as pre-packaged foods that are low in sugar.
Today, 97 volunteers salvage good food, help to distribute said food to members of our community in need, and eliminate further waste by sending spoiled food to Haderlie to feed their pigs. It’s a beautiful example of people making strides to right a wrong in our wasteful consumer culture. With a sprinter van recently donated from the Kemmerer Foundation for pick-ups and drop-offs, they are growing, but in constant need of more help. Are you interested in donating or volunteering your time?