In order to provide food for our Free Meal program and Free Market program, Food At First gathers food (gleaning) several times a day from a variety of sources throughout Ames. We pick up from Walmart, Sam’s Club, ISU Dining, Hy-Vee, Aldi’s, Panera, Chick-fil-A, and numerous other generous donors. We also receive seasonal fresh produce from our local farmers and individual community donors.
Our food industry generates a large amount of waste trying to meet needs and expectations. Each day in the United States, approximately one pound of food is wasted per person which means 81.4 billion tons of food is wasted, or 40% of our total food supply (USDA).
The reality is that we live in an incredibly abundant economy, and we are very picky about what we buy off of our grocery store shelves. Additionally, it makes more business sense for grocers to have too much of everything, to account for the fluctuating demand in a smaller city like Ames, Iowa.
So, what we end up with is beautiful apples, bright green lettuce, and tasty ribs that just don’t sell in time. In the past, they were simply thrown away, but Food At First is able to connect these resources with the people in our Ames community who really need it.
If you are interested in helping with gleaning, please note that opportunity is for volunteers interested in a long-term commitment. For more information on gleaning, email Patty Yoder (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A schedule of pickups is located here. If you have any questions or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!