Five Years of Feeding the Hungry with Excess Food
|Founder and CEO Beth Ostdiek Smith
Saving Grace's first refrigerated truck rolled out onto the streets of Omaha on Sept. 30, 2013. This launched a grassroots effort, filling an unmet niche to rescue excess perishable food and deliver it to local nonprofit agencies to feed the hungry rather than toss it in a dumpster - while also educating the public on ways to reduce food waste.
Five years later, Saving Grace's professional drivers operate three refrigerated trucks, with plans to soon add a fourth driver and truck to keep up with demand for our services. The amount of food now picked up in one month is more than twice what was rescued the first three months of operations combined.
"As I reflect on our significant growth in our first five years, it's because we've created a sustainable model to address food waste and hunger in the Greater Omaha area," says Beth Ostdiek Smith, founder and CEO. "It's an issue that we can all get our heads and hearts around. Who doesn't believe we should feed our hungry neighbors with so much healthy food that would otherwise be thrown out?"
Community support for Saving Grace has grown over the years as more people and food donors learn how they can make an impact. "I surround myself daily with talented, passionate people working as a team, and we continue to build wonderful community partnerships," Smith says. "We are the little engine that could and does. I'm excited about opportunities we have to rescue more healthy food and to create more opportunities for our community to partner in our
'no food waste movement!' Stay tuned."
Five Accomplishments in Five Years
1. We've rescued and redistributed over 2.6 million pounds of healthy excess perishable food with a value of $4.5 million.
2. When operations began, we received donated food from three businesses - Attitude on Food, Akin's Health Food and Greenberg Fruit. Today, we pick up food from 51 donor locations.
3. Food was originally delivered to three food pantries - Heart Ministry Center, Heartland Hope Mission and Together. We now provide food, free of charge, to 37 partner agencies at 40 locations.
4. We've engaged thousands of community members in our "no food waste" movement. We appreciate everyone's involvement, whether it is making a financial or in-kind donation, providing food donations, partnering with us to feed the hungry, advocating for reducing food waste and more.
5. More than 1,300 tons of food has been saved from entering our landfills. This is equal to the weight of 260 African male elephants (each weighing 5 tons).
Celebrating Our Original Partners
Five of our six original food donors and food recipient agencies still partner with Saving Grace:
"I am really happy to see that Saving Grace can collect and reuse a lot of food. If we didn't have you guys, we would be throwing away a lot of food." - Nathan Newhouse, Attitude on Food
"We appreciate the partnership and the relationship. Both of us have the goal of trying to assist people with food needs. Being able to take that issue on with each other is helpful." -
Eric Crawford, Heart Ministry Center
"Saving Grace really fills that gap for us in terms of providing produce and miscellaneous items like cold drinks and yogurt." -
Patrick Rios, Heartland Hope Mission
"The dream of Saving Grace is how do we capture food that is going to be thrown away, but that is still good? Saving Grace is a success story, but I am not surprised." -
Craig Howell, Together
Since operations began,
Greenberg Fruit has donated 270,396 pounds of nutritious food to Saving Grace. These donations help agencies provide their clients with healthy fruits and vegetables to meet their daily nutritional needs.
Top, from left, Greenberg Fruit donation being unloaded, Attitude on Food, fresh produce; bottom row, Heart Ministry Center, Heartland Hope Mission delivery and Together.
Join Our No Food Waste Movement
Did you know that 40 percent of food produced in the United States goes to waste? Join our movement to reduce this number:
- Pledge to reduce your own food waste.
- Make decisions as a consumer to do business with our food partners that donate their excess perishable food through Saving Grace to feed the hungry.
- Ask other businesses what they're doing to reduce food waste. Talk about opportunities to work with Saving Grace.
- Support Saving Grace with a financial donation.
"I love the fact that Saving Grace is a nonprofit for nonprofits. We not only save food from landfills, but we also save our nonprofit partners in food costs to run their organizations. The fact that Saving Grace have been able to be the link and connect good food that would otherwise be wasted to those in need is such a simple, but powerful mission."
Leslie Fisher, Together a Greater Good (TAGG)
Saving Grace board member since 2014
Help Us Feed More Hungry Bellies!