Waste Less Solutions launches food rescue program in Ogden
In 2017, Dana Williamson wanted to help solve hunger in America. Along the way, she learned the United States discards more food than any other country: nearly 40 million tons — 80 billion pounds a year. It equates to 219 pounds of waste per person per year. That’s like every person in America throwing more than 650 average-sized apples right into the garbage — or the landfills.
Williamson’s question was: If so many people are going hungry then why do we throw away food? Her research led her to Food Rescue.us, a national organization that “rescues” excess food directly from food donors (restaurants, cafeterias, caterers, etc.) to social service agencies that feed the hungry.
“They were only on the east and west coast. I reached out and said I wanted to bring it to Utah,” says Williamson. Williamson was Utah’s first “food rescuer.” To get started, she contacted Westminster College’s cafeteria.
“They were closed for winter break and had food going to go bad. I loaded my car with this amazing produce and brought it to my friends at the YWCA. Both sides thought it was a great idea,” says Williamson.
Williamson launched her nonprofit organization called Waste Less Solutions. According to their website, the organization’s mission is to make a significant reduction in food waste in Utah. They educate consumers and food entities on the issue and solution. Volunteers can download the Food Rescue.us app and become “food rescuers.” They drive “rescued” food from donors to organizations that will help those in need.
“It’s like ‘Uber’ for food waste,” says Williams. “Once you download the app, look at the schedule for rescues. Pick one, click on it, and it will tell you specific instructions on where and when to pick up and drop it off. Then report the food you rescued.”
They’ve saved over 513,000 meals — equivalent to providing three meals a day to over 171,000 individuals within the Salt Lake County area. Now the program is launching in Ogden thanks to a partnership with Ogden CAN (Civil Action Network).
Together, the nonprofits found the funding to hire Isaac Farley, a Weber State graduate, to launch the food rescue program in Ogden. While Farley attended Weber a few years ago, he founded O-Town Kitchen. This business produced uniquely flavored jams and jellies created from surplus food donations. He has since received a master’s degree. He says he is “eager to reduce food waste and increase food security in the Ogden area.”
Farley is looking for food donors in Ogden and the Weber County area who would like to participate in the food rescue program.
“Everyone in the food business should know whenever they have food waste, even if it’s once a year, they can call us. Don’t throw it away. We want to be an available resource to educate people in reducing their food waste, and to make a difference,” says Williamson.
Besides “rescuing” food from large excess food donors, Waste Less Solutions also has a program called GardenShare.
“We rescue from backyard gardens. Home gardeners can hop onto our website, locate a cooler, and drop in their extra produce. Then food rescuers will come to the share site and take it to a nonprofit that can get it to the people in need,” says Williamson.
Volunteers can also sign up to host a Garden Share site. You can place a cooler on your front porch or another place. “You don’t have to be home. It’s very convenient,” says Williamson.
If you are interested in becoming a “food rescuer,” helping to locate new food donors, want to set up a garden share, or putting a sign in your yard advertising the GardenShare program, go to www.wastelesssolutions.org.