The juxtaposition of the Jewish community’s commitment to addressing hunger issues and the reality of literal tons of prepared foods being wasted after events was too much for Hazon’s Boulder Director, Becky O’Brien, to handle. She observed that the Jewish community was generous with donating to food drives but it was stumped with how to handle the abundance of delicious perishable foods leftover from events like Shabbat luncheons or bar mitzvah parties.
On the donor side of the equation, the Boulder Jewish Community Center (JCC) was eager to be a guinea pig. The JCC’s Event and Rentals Manager Sara Guttman was seeing firsthand how much untouched prepared food was being wasted or composted after major events, everything from crudite trays, to boxed lunches, to expensive cheese platters. While the desire to donate was there, the JCC didn’t have the knowledge or time to research appropriate ways to donate. Sara reflected, “Sustainability is an important priority for the Boulder JCC. We represent this in our new LEED-certified facility, by having a Farm and Sustainability Director, as well as by hosting food drives, and composting. One of the challenges we faced when we moved into our new larger facility in September of 2016 and expanded our rental program was managing food waste.”
O’Brien reached out to Boulder Food Rescue to see if they could be part of the solution and help figure out the recipient side of the equation. They were immediately receptive and, with the help of a mini-grant from Hazon, were able to develop a donation recipient list and donation guidelines. Program Director Lindsey Loberg shares, “At BFR, we typically focus on the redistribution of fresh fruits and vegetables. We’ve been excited to partner with Hazon to connect with the Jewish community in Boulder to try out the redistribution of surplus prepared food from events to some of our recipient agency partners.”
Agencies that serve the hungry in Boulder have been grateful for the donations. And the donors are happy, too. Guttman enthused, “We were thrilled to partner with Hazon and Boulder Food Rescue to help us create a process for food waste diversion. We are now donating prepared food on a weekly basis and sometimes multiple times a week.” And here are the pictures to prove it: