GBFB to the Rescue: Tackling Food Waste

Published on April 3, 2024

With warmer weather, the world becomes greener, and we are mindful of the importance of a healthy and resourceful planet. Amidst this backdrop of renewal, one of the most impactful ways we can contribute to environmental sustainability is by combating food waste.  

GBFB is on a mission to salvage food and ensure our communities have access to the nutritious, fresh meals they need to thrive.  

Retail Donation Program (RDP) 

For more than a decade, GBFB’s Food Acquisition team has tackled food waste head-on through its Retail Donation Program (RDP). What started with just two retail stores in 2009 has blossomed into a collaboration encompassing 28 retail food partners and over 600 locations today.  

As a result, this program has become a cornerstone of GBFB’s efforts, constituting a remarkable 12% of all food donations received by GBFB. Our Food Acquisition team facilitates routine pick-ups between our 600+ agencies and participating food retail stores to obtain healthy, highly sought after food donations. Since October 2023, GBFB and its partners have secured nearly six million pounds of perishable and non-perishable food items including protein/meat, dairy, and produce – directly increasing the variety and fresh offerings available to our food pantries or feeding programs. And the great news?

GBFB is on track to rescue more than 10M pounds by next September through this retail donation program alone.  

Among our many esteemed retail partners, Stop & Shop Supermarket, Shaw’s and Star Market, and Trader Joe’s stand out as the top contributors by food donation volume and as of FY24, have donated over 2.5 million pounds to more than 300 GBFB partner agencies across Eastern Massachusetts. We are grateful for their continued generosity, which accounts for nearly half of the program’s retail food donations. We rely on the participation and generosity of all 28 retail food partners for this program to be fruitful and applaud their commitment to helping us address food insecurity in our community.  

Food Gleaning 

Fish from Seafood ExpoSimultaneously, GBFB engages in other vital initiatives to procure food. Gleaning, for instance, entails participating in large-scale food events to salvage leftover and unused products for distribution among our network of agencies. For instance, in February, GBFB and its partners rescued 3,850 pounds of bakery, dairy, canned, and fresh food items, subsequently distributed to our partner agencies to serve their clients in communities across Eastern Massachusetts. A notable success occurred at the 2024 Seafood Expo in early March, GBFB’s largest gleaning event of the year, where, with agency assistance, we successfully gathered 6,350 pounds of quality, unused seafood products which GBFB then distributed throughout our agency network to nourish our community. At the same time, GBFB’s Warehouse routinely receives food donations directly from retail stores, manufacturers, and wholesalers. Our team then sorts, stores, and packs the donations at GBFB’s warehouse for distribution to our partner agencies in communities across the region. So far this year, food donations included 49,491 pounds of frozen Ravioli Formaggio meals and 21,137 pounds of products generously donated by Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods, Inc., among others, comprised a diverse array of nutritious and culturally relevant items that we can redirect to feed our neighbors.

Food Rescue/Waste Partnerships 

GBFB also has formal partnerships with food rescue organizations including Spoonfuls and Food Link in addition to working with many other regional and local food rescue organizations. In total, through Spoonfuls and Food Link, GBFB was able to rescue 1.83 million pounds of food in FY2023. This salvage accounts for 14.9% of all food rescued through our enabling program, meaning approximately 3 of every 20 meals rescued comes directly from these local partnerships.

We also partner with RecycleWorks, a locally owned waste management service that provides waste collection, recycling, and destruction services for the food and beverage industry. GBFB has been working with RecycleWorks since 2022, sending a truck to GBFB to pick up waste once every 2 or 3 months. Our FY2024 goal is to keep the disposal rate under 1.5%. The disposal rate is currently 0.05%.

We simply cannot do this alone; through these collective efforts, community support and our committed partners, GBFB continues to make strides in its mission to reduce food waste and increase access to nutritious meals for our neighbors in need across Eastern Massachusetts. Together, with their help, and yours, we can continue to make a positive impact on our environment while also ensuring that no one goes hungry.  

To support our mission, consider making a donation here. 

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