Be a Hero – Go the Mile
This was the day Governor Dewine announced that he would be closing Ohio schools the following Tuesday to stop the spread of COVID.
At the time, I remember thinking about all the parents whose work lives would be inconvenienced because their kids would be at home instead of in the classroom. But to be honest, beyond that I didn’t really think much about the announcement. I was going about my business as usual. Yes, I heard the news about COVID and said a few prayers for those poor people in China but the challenge of COVID had yet to really impact me.
And then I went into Trader Joe’s for my weekly fun shopping trip.
While Kroger is my go-to grocery chain, Trader Joe’s is where I go to find fun party foods or something unusual for my family to enjoy. I remember thinking that the parking lot was busier than it usually was at that time of the day. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw, or didn’t see, inside.
It is a commonly held statistic that about 40% of all food grown or produced is wasted. We waste food for many reasons. Grocers discard food, distributors landfill overages, food organizations in sports stadiums, hospitals & conventions centers may find it hard to predict their numbers. Many of us go to the grocery store and buy what we think we need, forgetting about much of what we already have at home in the fridge or pantry. I don’t know about you, but my trip to the grocer is frequently followed by a purging of spoiled or excess food in my fridge to make room for my purchases. Inefficient, I know, but I’m not atypical.
That trip to Trader Joe’s was a watershed moment for me.
I remember the feeling of panic. Shelves had huge gaps or were completely bare. I thought I had enough in the pantry and the fridge – but maybe not. Maybe everyone else had a better understanding of what was to come. Maybe they were better prepared, and I was leaving my family vulnerable to whatever might happen in the days to come as we began to understand the impact of this virus on our health and well-being. Like I said…
PANIC! PANIC! PANIC!
All these thoughts and this feeling of dread caused me to pick up items I neither needed nor wanted. I just felt I needed to buy up all I could.
BUY! BUY! BUY!
To prevent hording, many chains instituted limits or refused returns of certain products. We are still struggling with the challenges of COVID; fortunately supply chains have adjusted to the new demands and stores shelves have fewer “we’re sorry – we are out of stock” signs. Even yeast has returned. And yet, I still have bags of lentils and pasta purchased that day in Trader Joe’s. I didn’t need those items and if I wait much longer, I’m going to be adding to that 40% statistic with more food waste than my spoiled fridge leftovers.
WASTE? WASTE? WASTE? (Hope not…)
As the weeks have passed since that March afternoon, I have learned a lot about food waste, the reasons it exists and the many organizations trying to address it. While local food banks play a key role in the food rescue process, they do not have the capacity to pick up the quantity of edible food available to be rescued, nor do they have the ability to deliver directly to those in need.
I have made “No one in my community goes hungry” a mantra that I hope becomes a reality soon.
Will you join me in becoming a Food Rescue Hero?