Nutritious Food Going to People, Not Landfills

We Don’t Waste believes that “nutritious food should go to people, not landfills.” It’s a relatively simple concept, but one that’s not always easy to put into practice. According to the USDA, over one-third of all available food in the U.S. goes uneaten through loss or waste. That’s an alarming statistic, especially when the number of food insecure people continues to rise. We Don’t Waste is on a mission to reduce hunger and food waste, and CoBank is a proud supporter of the organization and its mission.

After retiring from a career in law, Arlan Preblud began volunteering with his wife, serving meals at Denver nonprofits that help the homeless. A self-described “foodie,” one of the first things he noticed was the lack of fresh food offered. He began asking chefs and managers at his favorite local restaurants what happened to excess food at the end of the night. More often than not, he was told, it was thrown away. Preblud began researching ways to “rescue” this food and put it to work feeding those in need and, in 2009, he launched We Don’t Waste.

Today, We Don’t Waste is one of the largest food recovery organizations in Colorado collecting safe, consumable and unused foods from food producers, restaurants, hotels and other organizations. Donated foods include fresh fruit, greens, vegetables, meats, dairy, baked goods, desserts, prepared foods, frozen foods, snacks, beverages, bottled water and vegan products. The organization prioritizes perishable items that not only have a shorter shelf life, but whose production also has the greatest impact on the environment.

“Most of the food that goes uneaten in the United States ends up in a landfill,” said Preblud. “When it decomposes, it releases methane — a greenhouse gas between 24 and 87 times more potent than CO2. This makes reducing food waste a priority not only to help feed those in need, but to provide a more sustainable future for everyone.”

We Don’t Waste distributes food through more than 100 community-based hunger relief organizations. By supplementing the food assistance provided by partner nonprofits, We Don’t Waste helps these organizations to control their operating costs, allowing them to spend more of their financial resources on other programming. Thanks to We Don’t Waste, partner agencies report they are able to save an average of $27,000 per organization each year on food.

In addition, We Don’t Waste operates eight mobile food markets each month in local food deserts. Residents of these neighborhoods often rely on fast food and convenience stores, putting them at risk for a variety of medical conditions brought on or aggravated by poor nutrition. We Don’t Waste’s mobile markets reach into these communities, offering healthy, nutritious food to everyone, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Since its inception, We Don’t Waste has distributed over 3.7 million servings of wholesome, nutritious and delicious food to Denver’s underserved populations. It’s important work that CoBank has helped make possible through its contributions.

“CoBank has been a tremendous resource for We Don’t Waste,” said Preblud. “Its donations have helped us to purchase a new refrigerated truck, provided funding for our mobile markets and supported our fundraising events. CoBank associates have volunteered to help distribute food and even serve on our board. When we announced last year that we had outgrown our current facility, CoBank was one of the first to step up with a $250,000 donation to help fund our capital campaign. We simply couldn’t ask for a better partner.”