HELENA – Last year, the Helena Food Share provided over one million pounds of food to people who needed it. The local community is very generous with donations, but a sizable amount of that food came from somewhere you might not expect. Grocery stores gave over 900,000 pounds of food in 2018 alone.
It’s important to note that this is not just food that has gone out-of-date. Stores have limited storage in stockrooms, so when there is excess product ordered, or the best-by date is simply approaching quickly, the food needs to go somewhere. Instead of tossing it into the garbage, it goes to Helena Food Share, where it is put into the carts of people who can use it.
“Grocery Rescue,” as the program is called, helps to bridge the gap between stores’ excess and hungry Helena residents. Each day, trucks are out gathering food that used to go in the trash.
Dave Anderson, who has been driving the delivery truck for 8 years, says that he is glad to be helping folks in need. “You think, this used to all be going to the garbage,” he said, “and it’s perfectly usable food.”
On Wednesday alone, 4,800 pounds of food were collected. But even though that sounds like a lot, it goes quickly.
“Almost all of this will be gone today,” said volunteer Elinor Edmunds Miller, “We’ll have clients lined up outside when the pantry opens at 12:30 and there will be a steady stream of customers coming in to choose their groceries. So, basically everything will be gone.”
Staff and volunteers say they’re glad to be reducing both waste and hunger in our community.