On January 15th, Food Recovery Network (FRN) completed its second annual food recovery from the Winter Fancy Food Show, hosted by Specialty Food Association at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco. With the help of 100+ incredible volunteers, we recovered 33,273 pounds of food, officially making it FRN National’s largest, single-day food recovery to date!
As a Food Recovery Verified Fellow, I feel fortunate to have been onsite for this unique recovery effort; it was an experience unlike any other. Meeting our volunteers, feeling their excitement, watching as recovered food accumulated, and knowing that every morsel would be used to help feed food insecure individuals made for an excellent day. Not only did we recover a record-breaking amount of food, but FRN more than doubled the number of volunteers involved and forged new partnerships in the process.
We happily welcomed more than 100 volunteers, representing 25 different companies, organizations, and universities, to help collect and pack surplus food from vendors at the Winter Fancy Food Show. People traveled from all over to join us for this recovery and some even flew from across the country to assist, simply because they understand and believe in the significance of our work.
For one day, a group of people united around a mission to fight food waste, but the longevity and impact of that effort is endless.
FRN would like to thank Clif Bar, the Feedfeed, Robert Half Technology, The Town Kitchen, and Woodard & Curran, as well as student and alumni groups from San Francisco State University and the University of Maryland, in particular. Each of these groups were instrumental in promoting our call for volunteers across their networks and ensuring we had enough volunteers to reach our recovery goal! After the event, Rachel Gross from Woodard & Curran said, “This is a really fun event! It's high energy, high impact, and fun to see all of the different fancy foods that get donated.”
The energy from our volunteers, their joy and the positivity that oozed from every conversation fueled an incredibly successful recovery. I was reminded of what is possible when people mobilize to support an important cause. For one day, a group of people united around a mission to fight food waste, but the longevity and impact of that effort is endless. As volunteers worked together throughout the afternoon, they fostered connections, developed a deeper sense of community, and ultimately diverted thousands of pounds of food from going to waste.
For the second year in a row, all of the food recovered from the Winter Fancy Food Show was donated to Delancey Street Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides critical support to individuals recovering from substance and/or alcohol abuse and those formerly incarcerated as they reintegrate into the community. Much of the surplus food will be utilized for their culinary training program, where it will be converted into meals for residents and workers at their San Francisco campus. “We pack bag lunches for our delivery drivers and other workers daily. It’s great that we can use a lot of really nice, healthy foods from the event for that purpose,” said Stephanie Muller, Director of Development at Delancey Street Foundation.
This is enough food to feed 25 people three meals per day, every day for an entire year!
You might wonder, what does 33,000 pounds of food actually look like? With a number so large, it’s hard to envision what this means so I’ll do my best to break it down. The amount of food recovered from this single event equates to roughly 27,000 meals. To put that into perspective, this is enough food to feed 25 people three meals per day, every day for an entire year! How amazing is that? It’s so heartwarming to think that the work we accomplished in one afternoon will continue to make a difference for others throughout the year.
Whether you recover enough food for one meal or thousands of meals, the time dedicated to fighting food waste matters to someone else on the receiving end.
When I reflect on the success of this recovery, I come back to the people who made it possible. Every person involved in bringing this day to fruition has made an impact in ways they will likely never see or fully understand. However, Daniza Acenas, a volunteer from San Francisco State University, described her service beautifully, “it is one way to reflect on how much we can positively affect people’s lives by giving them the basic necessities, empathy, and hope.” It’s invigorating to know that whether you recover enough food for one meal or thousands of meals, the time dedicated to fighting food waste matters to someone else on the receiving end.
Thank you again to all who made this event so special! I left San Francisco inspired to build off the momentum we created at the 2019 Winter Fancy Food Show recovery, and I am certain that this will be a great year as we continue to fight food waste and feed more people.