Food rescue programs are extremely important. We produce lots of waste in the United States, and Oberlin is no exception. This waste is a problem because lots of people are going hungry, and also because food waste in landfills produces large amounts of methane and contributes to global challenges.
The waste OCS wants to target for elimination in Oberlin can be divided into two categories: produce waste from farms and gardens, and pre-prepared meals and cooked food waste from dining halls and restaurants. Of course, there are other sources of waste as well: produce and dry goods from grocery stores and all manner of waste products from individual homes. But the first two are fairly large sources and more targetable. They are specifically important because those two categories of food are categories that clients are in need of.
Produce waste from farms and gardens
Clients are consistently requesting a greater quantity and variety of produce. We are working to coordinate consistent gleaning activities with local farms to rescue produce. Rescuing produce from farms and serving those items in the OCS pantry reduces waste and helps OCS meet needs.
Other food rescue operations in place
Currently, Pizza Hut freezes leftover meals each week for OCS. Panera and Subway both drop off bread on a regular basis.
Pre-prepared and cooked food waste from Dining halls and restaurants
Offering pre-prepared meals helps fill a hole in the pantry model. Clients might walk away with fresh ingredients, but if they are experiencing homelessness, lack the necessary cookware, or work a night shift and don't have time to cook dinner, pre-prepared meals are another option. We are working with Oberlin College and their food service provider Bon Appétit to flash freeze leftover dining hall meals and have them delivered to OCS by Oberlin College student members of the RCT (resource conservation team). This program is expanding, and by September 2017 we will work with every dining hall on campus and have Monday-Friday deliveries. We are working with local restaurants and Kendal at Oberlin to discover ways that they can participate as well.