Every day, 7,000 pounds of food — steak, milk, pastries, produce — is not simply tossed on a garbage heap and left to rot. Thanks to Waste Not, surplus but perfectly good food from caterers, resorts, grocery stores and other establishments is rerouted to community centers, senior centers, homeless shelters or other locations that can make immediate use of it. “It’s so much easier to just throw the food away, so when our partners take the time to collect the food for us — that’s huge,” says Dee Mitten, executive director of Phoenix nonprofit Waste Not.
Smaller restaurants do not have large enough kitchens to generate the large quantities that make a pick up worth the expense of time and resources. Looking for another way to support Waste Not, the independent restaurants of Devour Phoenix, part of Local First Arizona, have partnered with Waste Not for a summer fundraiser: Devour Hunger for Waste Not. The restaurants will donate the proceeds from featured dishes that use local food purveyors. Mitten sees the fundraiser having a dual benefit: “We want to drive customers to restaurants and help them in the summer — they do so much for the community — and expose the fact there are still hungry people in the summer.” One in four children in Metro Phoenix goes to bed hungry; with every dollar donated, Waste Not feeds six or seven people.
- EVENT: Devour Hunger for Waste Not, July 17-31. Aiming to raise enough money to feed 100,000 people, Devour Phoenix restaurants are donating proceeds from featured dishes.
- Participating Devour Phoenix restaurants are Astor House, Beckett’s Table, Bliss/ReBar, Cibo, FEZ, Gallo Blanco, Humble Pie, The Parlor, St. Francis, Switch, Tuck Shop and Urban Beans.
- Waste Not is not a food bank. Since it does not warehouse food, expenses are minimal. Most of the operating budget goes to maintaining the trucks and paying the drivers.
- “Drivers are paid professionals because the job is so complex,” says Mitten, explaining that as the food — most of it perishable — is picked up, decisions must be made immediately as to the most suitable of the 100-plus recipient organizations to deliver it to.