Program rescues food before it's trashed

April 23, 2009 12:22:08 PM PDT
More people are finding it hard to afford healthy food. One program is addressing that need in a novel way. There's an old saying: "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Some people are taking that idea to a totally different level and it may give you food for thought.

Vicki Fowler is on a fantastic shopping spree. Today, she's loading up at Whole Foods. But make no mistake about it, Vicki is on a mission taking perishable items to people who really need them.

"Soup kitchens, shelters, churches that have pantries." said Fowler of The Resource Center.

Vicki works for an organization called The Resource Center. They really recycle food - groceries that would normally be thrown away.

"It's like legitimizing dumpster diving, organized dumpster diving," said Fowler."

Here's how it works: when businesses like Whole Foods, Panera Bread or catering companies have something they can't sell - maybe the boxes get dented or the stores just have too much material and too little space -that's when they call Vicki.

"Really if it wasn't for places like The Resource Center, it would just get thrown away."

The Resource Center folks load up the food and take it all over town to all types of non-profit agencies which need help, like Vital Bridges, a social service agency for people living with AIDS.

Fowler said, "It really feels good to go to that particular place because a lot of what they have is frozen; they're vegetables, and being able to bring fresh produce, organic produce, that may not be suitable for the store shelves. It's really beautiful food."

Today, Vicki's van is going to the WIC office in Humboldt Park and it's a welcomed delivery.

Isabel Cuevas, nutritionist at the WIC in Humboldt Park said, "The price of food, everything is so expensive, so a little help here and there is great. Some people do look forward to when they come around. They ask 'they bring food today?' and they love it."

And apparently the love is mutual.

"My job is great," explained Fowler. "Everyone is happy to see me. I get a hug when I walk in the door 'Oh, you brought food!' like I'm Santa or something. It's nice to actually walk in and see the faces that are going to be enjoying this food later."

www.resourcecenterchicago.org


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