Food insecurity is on the rise. The USDA Economic Research Service found that at-home food prices increased 3.5% in 2021 and another 11.4% in 2022.
At the same time, America wastes huge amounts of food. According to Feeding America, 38% of food in America is trashed. On average, 149 billion meals get thrown away every year.
Part of our parent organization's mission is to help increase regional food security and decrease food waste. The key to doing so is understanding the community's resources and struggles. For example, local food pantries often receive generous donations of produce and meat. However, there are certain crops that food bank clients are not likely to consume without additional processing, such as winter squashes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, and venison. This is especially true for clients with limited cooking equipment.
CFEC's kitchen is ideally situated to help.
With commercial-grade food processing, we can quickly and efficiently turn 1,000 lbs of produce into delicious, nutritious, ready-to-serve meals.
Since opening in September of 2023, we have processed over 2,200 lbs of rescued food through our Feeding 500 program. Our Stone Soup Job Skills Training Program participants and additional volunteers led these cooking events, making over the goal of 500 servings each time.
As we continue to grow, we hope to turn these events into Feeding 5000 and combine them with our job training programs to expand the skills of the local workforce while giving back to the community.
Through our networks with local food pantries, MAFRAC, and farmers, we are alerted to food on its way to the dumpster or a donation that is particularly difficult to process. We then coordinate to pick up the donation or have it dropped off at the Carver Center.
The next step is washing and prepping the donation for the recipe. Our commercial equipment helps do so safely and quickly. Meanwhile, we work on a nutritious recipe that will use other donated food and be culturally responsive to the most current needs.
Job Training and Volunteers
Donations that need to be used quickly can be prepared by our job training participants, building their skills. Or, if we have time, we reach out to the community for volunteers. One Feeding 500 event usually takes about 4 hours.
The meals are then packaged, labeled, and stored until our food pantry partners can pick them up! We aim to make easily storable, ready to eat meals in single servings that increase the accessibility of healthy food.
Want to help?
Interested in volunteering at our next event? Have some equipment you'd like to donate? Please, let us know by submitting the form below. Thank you!