Shop for a cause this Giving Tuesday! When you make a purchase at wondercide.com on November 29th, 2016, Wondercide will donate 10% of profits to Keep Austin Fed, an Austin, TX non-profit that rescues good food from going to the landfill and instead feeds our hungry neighbors. When grocery stores and restaurants have food that has passed the expiration date but is still entirely edible and nutritious, often times it ends up being thrown away. Keep Austin Fed works to change that. Every day, their team rescues carfuls of quality meals to deliver to neighbors in need through trusted charitable partner organizations.
We chatted with Special Events Director Russell Cavin about Keep Austin Fed’s mission and impact. When you purchase your favorite natural products for your pack, now you’ll know exactly where your Giving Tuesday donations are going!
Wondercide: How and why was Keep Austin Fed founded?
Russell (Keep Austin Fed): In 2004, Keep Austin Fed founder Randy Rosens was contacted by a friend working a catered event at an Austin Museum of Art Fundraising event at Laguna Gloria. After the event, there was a lot of good food left that was headed for the dumpster. Randy’s friend knew of his work with Keep Austin Mobile and thought he might know of someone that could eat the food instead of throwing it out. Randy took the food and fed a small group of women and children living at a shelter in South Austin. That was the first official “food run!” From that moment, Randy felt this was his next calling. He had a dream of a grassroots group of volunteers in Austin rescuing good food from the landfill to feed our hungry neighbors.
Wondercide: What is KAF’s mission?
Keep Austin Fed: Sharing healthy nutrition with our hungry neighbors by keeping surplus food out of the waste stream.
Wondercide: What other charitable organizations does KAF work with?
Keep Austin Fed: All of our recipients are charitable organizations that take the food we supply from our donors to feed the people they serve. A few include Caritas, Angel House, Casa Marianella, Easter Seals, multiple Foundation Communities, HAND, Outcry in the Barrio, Posada Esperanza, Safe Place, and Trinity Center.
Wondercide: How does KAF positively impact both the hungry and the environment?
Keep Austin Fed: The food we deliver is typically eaten within a few days by good people in our community battling food insecurity. One of our goals is “best food first,” so we focus on delivering nutritious food to people who otherwise may not have access to quality food. So far, this year we have rescued around 500,000 lbs of food that otherwise would have ended up in the landfill. By keeping this organic material out of the waste stream, we are helping to reduce harmful methane emissions.
Wondercide: How big of a problem is food waste in America?
Keep Austin Fed: According to the Natural Resource Defense Council, approximately 40% of our food never makes it into the mouths of Americans. Food waste is a huge problem due to the harmful environmental effects caused by the release of methane emissions. When you take into account the fact that 1 in 7 people are food insecure, it seems crazy to think that we are losing such a high percentage of good food to the landfill.
Wondercide: How can Austinites get involved?
Keep Austin Fed: The easiest way to get involved is to come join the fight against food waste with us at Keep Austin Fed! Register as a volunteer at www.keepaustinfed.org/volunteer
Wondercide: What would you say to someone who wants to start a program like this in their local area?
Keep Austin Fed: While the solution is extremely simple, there are safety precautions and best practices that should be used. All of our donors and recipients go through a vetting process to ensure the process is as safe as possible. Each of our volunteers is required to have an active Food Handler’s Certificate to make sure they understand food safety. Additionally, we do not deliver or pick up food from individuals. Everything we pick up must be from a commercial kitchen, and we only deliver to other organizations that serve food insecure people.
Wondercide: Anything else you’d like people to know about Keep Austin Fed?
Keep Austin Fed: Volunteering with Keep Austin Fed is one of the best things I have ever done in my entire life. I’ve never been a part of something that was truly a Win-Win-Win-Win. By taking 30 minutes to an hour out of a day, we are able to:
- Help the environment
- Feed our hungry neighbors in need, and
- Help businesses acquire tax credits for donating their food.
The 4th win is the personal one. Every time I go on a food run, the stress from the day seems to melt away. There is nothing better than knowing that, by giving just a little bit of time, we are helping to make the world a better place and leaving a positive impact on our community.