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Moving Fresh Food Fast

Getting fresh food to people in need quickly and efficiently, while eliminating food waste, are the two major components of The Greater Boston Food Bank’s (GBFB) rapidly growing Retail Donation Program.

As of Fall 2019, the program accounts for over 13 percent of GBFB’s total distribution, and over half of what’s distributed in the program is meat and fresh produce.

GBFB approaches supermarkets and retailers to donate excess food that no longer meets their selling standards but is still highly nutritious and perfectly good food. We connect those stores with a nearby GBFB partner agency that can pick up the donation. When an agency makes a pickup, they take anywhere from a few pounds to a few thousand pounds of food, depending on their capacity to store and distribute it.

This year we’ve already distributed 7.2 million pounds of food through the program, which is 2.5 million pounds more than the same time last year. We’re on pace to distribute 150 percent more through the program this year than we did just three years ago.

A large part of that growth is due to the hard work of our GBFB Team Members. Three years ago, GBFB dedicated two full-time Team Members to oversee the program. Together, they steward relationships between dozens of retail chains with more than 300 stores and 160 of our partner agencies.

“The draw for our partner agencies is that they get center-of-the-plate donations—like chicken or pork—and in-demand items like milk and vegetables, that they can get to their clients right away” said Dan Mitro, GBFB Assistant Manager of Local Food Donors.

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