|Beth Ostdiek Smith, president; Trader Joe's Captain Parker Staley, Randy Hansen, driver/food handler; and Judy Rydberg, director of operations, celebrate Saving Grace's 1 millionth pound of excess perishable food collected. Trader Joe's is one of Saving Grace's largest donors.
1 Million Healthy Meals Provided in Our Community
Saving Grace Perishable Food Rescue reached a milestone on July 21 when that day's donations tipped the scale for total food rescued and delivered to 1 million pounds. A celebration of this achievement was held today at Trader Joe's, one of our earliest and largest food donors.
Since Saving Grace's first truck rolled out onto the streets on Sept. 30, 2013, we have consistently exceeded goals. The 1 million pound mark was no exception, as it was reached a month earlier than anticipated, thanks to large donations this summer.
Saving Grace operates two refrigerated trucks, with plans to add a third one next year. Thirty grocery stores, restaurants, caterers and other food purveyors supply their excess fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, prepared and packaged meals and other perishable foods to Saving Grace. This healthy food is picked up and delivered the same day, free of charge, to a network of 19 local nonprofits that serve low-income families in our community.
"We could not have achieved this milestone without the support of the Omaha community, especially our generous food donors and financial supporters," said Beth Ostdiek Smith, founder and president of Saving Grace. "The food donations translate to 1 million healthy meals provided to clients of our partner agencies - homeless shelters, children's centers, food pantries, senior centers and other nonprofits."
Thursday's regular pick-up from Trader Joe's included 425 pounds of meat, milk, eggs, frozen foods, produce, bakery items and flowers that were delivered later in the day to several food pantries.
"Trader Joe's is in the business of feeding people, and we take it very seriously<' said Parker Staley, Omaha Trader Joe's captain. "All of the items we deem unsellable we still want to go to a good home, and Saving Grace has been such a crucial part of that." Partnering with Saving Grace allows Trader Joe's to be a part of the community by donating to those in need, he added.
Since February 2014, Trader Joe's has donated more than 185,000 pounds of excess perishable food through Saving Grace. Other major donors over the past three years are Greenberg Fruit (160,000 pounds), Hy-Vee #9 at 180th and Q (129,000 pounds) and Atkin's Natural Food Store (112,000 pounds.)
Thanks to these businesses and agencies, and all of our donors and community supporters, our vision of feeding the hungry by rescuing the heartland's bounty that would otherwise go to waste is becoming a reality.