According to the USDA, more than 30 percent of retail and consumer food gets tossed every day. That equates to more than 430 billion pounds of food wasted each year.
USDA figures show that 24.2 percent of children in Arizona under 18 are food insecure, the 3rd highest rate in the country, behind only New Mexico and Mississippi. That translates to 1 in 4 Arizona children going to bed hungry every night. The Waste Not organization is on a mission to change things, and thanks to a grant from Arizona Public Service (APS), fewer families will go to bed hungry this year.
APS recently provided a $10,000 grant to support Waste Not’s Child, Youth and Family programs, which serve 35 agencies throughout the state. This level of funding will cover a full month of expenses for this program in 2016.
The organization’s trucks and drivers are on the road six days per week, daily collecting an average of 10,000 pounds of excess perishable food from restaurants, resorts, caterers, grocers and various other food purveyors – food that would otherwise be thrown away. Waste Not delivers the food the same day to more than 100 diverse agencies that feed the hungry including schools, after-school programs, daycare centers, rehabilitation centers, transition homes and senior facilities.
Kelley Coats, director of customer operations at Arizona Public Service and Waste Not board secretary, says she got involved with the organization when she learned about the significant impact they were making on the lives of hungry Phoenix area families, particularly children.
“This organization is doing an amazing job addressing hunger,” said Coats. “Every day, Waste Not transfers 10,000 pounds of food to hungry families in the Valley. 10,000 pounds! As the mother of two children, the thought of having to send my kids to bed hungry breaks my heart.”
Through her involvement with Waste Not, Coats says it has been heartening to see the community come together to address the issue of food insecurity.
“From restaurants and resorts to grocery stores and caterers, the generosity of the local business community is making a difference. What some people don’t realize is that in addition to the food donations, it takes significant financial support to provide the transportation and infrastructure to make sure Waste Not can get perishable food where it needs to be when it needs to be there. It is the continued support of donations from individuals and corporations that makes this happen.”
In addition to the $10,000 Waste Not grant, APS will donate $10 for every customer who opts into paperless billing in the month of November, up to $10,000, as part of its Go Paperless Campaign.
Those wishing to help with food donations or contributions should visit http://www.wastenotaz.org/how-to-help.aspx.