New Safeway Food Rescue Program Helps Help Seattle Food Banks

SEATTLE — Food banks in the Seattle area have felt an increased need for help in recent months. New food rescue partnerships are underway to prevent food waste and get food to those in need.

Back in 2021, the White Center Food Bank was attended by approximately 100-120 families per day. Currently, they serve up to 200 of his families per day, which can be a challenge in terms of resources.

Heather Crandall, Volunteer Manager at the White Center Food Bank, said: “With the demand for food from our communities increasing, we need more food, we need more volunteers, we need more food. We need funds,” he said.

Crandall said soaring food prices and the end of pandemic-era food benefits contributed to the surge.

“Many families are struggling to make ends meet,” Crandall said.

Volunteers from the White Center Food Bank visit Safeway daily to pick up a variety of meats, fresh produce, convenience foods and more.

This fall, Safeway, with the support of Seattle Public Works, launched a new and improved food rescue program to most effectively collect and donate unsold food. Every day, employees in each department gather food that is one day past their “sell by date” and place it in refrigerators and freezers for food pantry volunteers to pick up. New posters to guide employees about what they can donate and designated bins for unsold food are two of her improvements to the program.

“It’s the same food that you always have in your fridge, and if you buy it from the grocery store the day before, it’s perfectly fine,” says Sarah Osborne, director of public affairs and government for Safeway’s Northwest. region.

Safeway stores in Seattle have a total of more than four tons of unsold edibles to donate each week, she said, but every food bank, like the White Center Food Bank, has enough volunteers to pick up the food. That is not the case. They want food banks to recruit more volunteers to receive food, not only to help families feed, but also to prevent waste.

“Food is the most common waste found in Seattle,” said Liz Fikes, senior manager of waste prevention programs for Seattle Public Works.

Fikais said joint efforts like this with Safeway help people and the environment.

“Preventing food waste in the first place is one of the first solutions to avoiding greenhouse gas emissions,” Fikes said.

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