Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Rescued food at Harbor Light Shelter in Minneapolis

‘Rescued’ food saves thousands from hunger

Added on Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Salvation Army and grocery stores agree: Food is much more useful in a person’s belly than in the trash.

That’s the idea behind The Salvation Army’s “Rescued Food” program, which salvages tons of food that is close to – but certainly not past – its expiration date.

With fresh meat, produce and bread rolling in daily, rescued food is a godsend to our hot meal programs and food shelves across Minnesota and North Dakota. In the Twin Cities alone, local Lunds, Byerly’s and Trader Joe’s grocery stores donate 75,000 to 80,000 pounds of rescued food to The Salvation Army every month.

These donations save The Salvation Army thousands of dollars, which allows the money you give to be used for other important services like energy assistance or housing programs.

Case study: Minneapolis shelter

Rescued food delivery at Harbor Light ShelterThe Salvation Army Harbor Light Shelter in downtown Minneapolis would have a hard time getting by without rescued food. The facility serves about 2,000 meals per day and is Minnesota’s largest homeless outreach center.

“Rescued food lowers our overhead costs substantially,” affirmed Camilla Shimonek, Harbor Light business manager. “With our recent $80,000 budget cut, rescued food is more important than ever in filling our food needs.”

About 60 percent of the ingredients Harbor Light uses in its hot meals come from rescued food.

“The challenge is using it all before it goes bad,” said Cam Hill (pictured above with a bread delivery), Harbor Light’s in-kind gift director, who picks up five to seven vanloads of rescued food daily. “Donated foods dictate what our menu looks like every day because we have to use most of the food immediately.”

That means, for example, that if several cases of hamburger arrive in the morning, lunch might be sloppy joes or meatloaf. Later in the day, if a shipment of green peppers arrives and there’s hamburger leftover from lunch, dinner is stuffed peppers.

Other donations are more predictable: Harbor Light receives fresh veggies all the time and can almost guarantee a salad bar will accompany lunch and dinner (see main photo at top).

Add it all up, and rescued food equals delicious, home-cooked meals that fuel thousands of hungry people working to get on their feet.

“I can’t complain – the breakfast here is about as good as I’d make at home,” said a college student named Austin, 38, who was staying at Harbor Light in late November. He planned to stay another couple weeks until he received a student loan payment that would get him back into an apartment.

Get involved

Food rescue programs exist at Salvation Army locations across Minnesota and North Dakota.

You can help get rescued food to the people who need it by volunteering at your local Salvation Army food shelf.

“Our food shelves need help with things like sorting donations and distributing food – it only takes an hour or two per week,” said Lt. Col. Robert Thomson, Salvation Army Northern Division commander. “Nothing compares to the joy our volunteers feel knowing they’ve helped a person or family in need. Nothing.”

Find your nearest Salvation Army by typing in your ZIP code at the top of this page.

As always, monetary donations help, too.

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