Food donation can be trickier than you think, but this new partnership makes things easy for us
Every Wednesday, your company provides catered lunch.
Even after several helpings, there’s still leftover food. Like a whole tray full of untouched wrapped sandwiches. And you’re the “lucky one” in charge of doing something with it.
You can’t just show up at the nearest soup kitchen and say, “here, take this.” Most places require an advanced notice and proper refrigerated storage. Plus, you’re not fluent in food safety (what office professional is?).
But you need a food solution that’s simple. One that suits your company’s bottom line and not a waste of your time. Read on to see how we successfully donated 8,000 lbs of food since February, and how your company can too.
Our call to action on food waste
Before February of this year, our company needed help rescuing on the order of 150-500 lbs of food per week. And we strongly felt (and still do!) that throwing away food has bad outcomes for everyone involved. So, rather than just simply concede to the weight of food waste, we wanted to take action!
100 pounds of unconsumed food per day
LeanBox warehouse drivers make daily deliveries across 200 customers in MA, NH, RI and Southern ME. They restock and sort food before it expires, so customers have new food choices available 2-3 times per week.
This process can send up to 100 lbs of unconsumed food back to our warehouse per day. Unconsumed foods are foods items that simply didn’t sell, i.e. fresh-made healthy salads, soups, and sandwiches, dairy, baked goods, and mixed produce, before the expiration date and would otherwise be thrown away days to make room for new inventory.
Rejected for food donations, again and again
Before finding a match, we were rejected by 10 places. TEN.
We tried making deliveries to food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters. You’d think anyone would take hundreds of pounds of fresh, healthy food. But, even a pig farmer rejected us.
What gives? With all things being equal, most food donation operations are just not equipped with the right supply chain logistics to handle perishable food waste loads upwards of 150 lbs per donor.
Lovin’ Spoonfuls to the rescue
We landed on Lovin’ Spoonfuls because they’re a supply chain powerhouse. With a wide network of donors and beneficiaries, their fleet of trucks pick up 5,000 of pounds of fresh food and repurposes it the same day. No need to drop off food. No overnight storage required.
We’re thrilled to be partnered with LeanBox to help them find a home for their unsold meals. The food is a great benefit for a number of agencies that don’t have the resources to cook and prepare meals. -Ashley Stanley, Executive Director & Founder, Lovin’ Spoonfuls
The Lovin’ Spoonfuls partnership model
The Lovin’ Spoonfuls partnership model has two pillars of success:
- Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ pilot program
- Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ commitment to strict food safety standards.
A typical partnership will run a pilot phase and Lovin’ Spoonfuls ServSave Certified staff will train and educate food source vendors on food safety standards. That means anyone handling food donations at your company will receive proper food handling training at no cost to you. The average length of a pilot phase varies from vendor to vendor, depending on staffing and logistics. The success of each partnership hinges on a food source’s ability to take food safety as seriously as Lovin’ Spoonfuls.
The way they see it, hunger relief is a team sport. You need to be in it to win it.
In the end, our partnership works because of a shared goal and mission to address the costs of food waste, reducing waste, and meeting the needs of a growing, hungry population.
Food rescued so far, by the spoonful
Since 2010, Lovin’ Spoonfuls has rescued 4 million lbs of food for meals. Yep, 4 million pounds of food.
What does that even look like? In weight, that’s close to 1,185 Tesla Model 3’s or 2 giant sequoia trees.
And the number of mouths it feeds? For that, some quick math:
Say the average meal is 4 oz (picture a pasta salad). 4,000,000 lbs = 64,000,000 oz. Divide 64,000,000 by 4 oz and that gives you 16 million meals.
Quick-start guide to food donation
Here’s a breakdown of questions to ask and resources, so you sound as savvy with food donations as you are with any office matter.
Questions to ask a food donation operation
Here are 10 questions to ask a food donation operator before enrolling into a partnership.
- What type of food is accepted?
- How do you operate?
- What standards of public health do you abide by?
- How many times per week can food be donated?
- Is there a timely delivery of food to beneficiaries?
- Is there a food minimum?
- Does it cost money to donate?
- Where does the food go after it’s delivered/dropped off?
- What are the benefits of using your service (versus a food bank or food rescue service)?
- Can I drop off leftover food from my house?
Food donation resources
- Go here to partner with Lovin’ Spoonfuls.
- Food donation guidelines for Massachusetts.
- Learn more about food waste.
- Info on food insecurity in Massachusetts.
- Other food rescue operations: