Seattle Food Rescue volunteers Lucas, right, and Arthur (Image: CHS)
America has a major food waste problem. That’s why for the past two years Seattle Food Rescue—a small volunteer non-profit organization of mostly college students — has been biking to grocery stores around Central Seattle picking up excess consumable food and delivering the goods to food banks and community partners around the city. Now, Seattle Food Rescue is partnering with Capitol Hill Housing to bring groceries right to the doors of residents at several properties.
“In an ideal world, all the food waste would be diverted from landfills to people who need it,” said Tim Jenkins, founder of Seattle Food Rescue. “That’s where we’d like to be headed.”
Jenkins a recent graduate of the University of Colorado who moved to Seattle in 2014, got the idea for Seattle Food Rescue from his time volunteering with Boulder Food Rescue, a very robust version of his operation which boasts around one hundred bike-riding, food-rescuing volunteers.
“I really liked the food distribution model that was focused around bicycles,” said Jenkins. “So I took that model and brought it out to Seattle and I’ve been slowly but surely expanding it ever since.”
Originally, Seattle Food Rescue partnered strictly with several food banks in Seattle — the University District Food Bank and the Pike Market Food Bank in downtown to be exact –acting as a vehicle to get perishable foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, pre-made meals like sandwiches and dairy products from grocery stores to food banks to be distributed. This focus fills what Jenkins calls a nutritional gap left by local food banks, who prioritize stocking non-perishable foods like canned vegetables and meats and staple dry goods like pasta and rice. Jenkins says his organization focuses on “anything that has a short shelf-life.”
In addition, Seattle Food Rescue only partners with small and medium sized grocery stores—not to be confused with corner stores—around Central Seattle, which Jenkins says are often overlooked by food banks who would rather focus their resources on bigger retailers who can offer a high volume of goods. Regular donors to Seattle Food Rescue include Capitol Hill’s Central Co-Op on Madison, the Broadway farmers market, and the Stockbox Neighborhood Grocery on First Hill, one of the first retailers to partner with the volunteer organization. Continue reading