Monday was a federal holiday and observed by my day job which gave me a day to address things for the nonprofit. I had received a request from an individual that worked for a local chain restaurant. They were dismayed by all the food being thrown away each evening and wanted us to talk to them about donating the food. So I drove down and asked to speak with the manager. I introduced myself, explained what our organization does, and explained the need in our community. He called his supervisor, had a brief conversation and then told me I would have to contact corporate marketing department. I returned home and filled out a generic contact form on their website. I sat and marveled at the difficulty of getting a business to quit throwing away food and instead receiving a tax deduction and helping struggling families in their community.
I cannot count the number of these conversations I have had over the last three years. The responses are incredible. Liability concerns despite federal and state laws that protect food donors from any liability claims. Concerns that employees will intentionally waste more food to increase donations. Concerns that it will take too much extra effort to donate. The popular response is that their management team carefully monitors inventory and usage and they have absolutely zero waste.
Last month we received a phone call from an anonymous individual that works for a local grocery store chain. They had seen a newspaper article about our organization's work to eliminate hunger in our community and daily watched hundreds of pounds of food going in the dumpster. So I drove to the grocery store and asked to speak with the manager. I spoke to one of the managers who told be the Food Bank picked up all of the meat and an area church picked up all of the bread weekly and "everything gets donated and picked up". I smiled and thanked her for her time all the while knowing they daily throw away cut fruit and vegetables.
I am dumbfounded on the insistence of business owners, operators, and managers that continue to throw away perfectly edible food everyday like clockwork. Don't believe me, pick a restaurant and sit in the parking lot at closing time and watch the cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, hot wings, heads of lettuce, cut fruit, and pizzas being thrown in dumpsters 55 gallon bags at a time.
I have to admit I find it frustrating, and it causes me to question why I continue to struggle with it all. But then I remember the 16,740 adults and 11,000 children in our community that are struggling with hunger and deserve someone to work to help them. I remember the volunteers at over 29 churches who spend countless hours trying to help these struggling families that deserve some help and support. This weekend, our campus pastor Clay Scroggins delivered a message "Choose to Lose". In it, he said that when we are doing what we are called to do, it often feels like losing, but that choosing to lose is exactly what Jesus did for us. He chose to lose for our sake. That was a pretty timely message that hit home with us.