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Cultivate Food Rescue saves their 2-millionth pound of food

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 5:46 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -Now to an exciting update from Cultivate Food Rescue during one of their busiest times of the year.

They just rescued their 2-millionth pound of food since starting in 2017.

This is a major milestone in their mission to get food to kids who need it, instead of it being thrown away.

It was around this time of year in 2020 when Cultivate rescued their one-millionth pound of food.

Since then they’ve doubled those efforts in a fraction of the time, thanks in big part to their growing network of community partners.

“It’s hard to do, but there’s a lot of food out there that’s being wasted,” said Cultivate Food Rescue Executive Director and Co-Founder Jim Conklin.

This is where some of that food gets a second life. Leftovers from Notre Dame home games and dining halls, fresh produce from partnering grocery stores, and at this time of year even turkeys, turn into 6000 easy and nutritious meals for kids every week.

This latest milestone shows they’re not alone in their mission to reduce food insecurity through reducing food waste.

“It took us 42 months, 3 1/2 years to get to that first million pounds, but then that second million pounds over 10 months is huge because that means people have really bought in and we have so many different food donors on a random basis it really ads up to a lot. One million pounds over ten months is really proof of that,” Conklin said.

Notre Dame and Cultivate rescued 20-thousand pounds of food from campus in this past football season alone.

When more food comes in, that means more meals for kids going out.

“As our food has grown, our backpack program has grown with it. So now every weekend we’re sending six meals a week home with 1,000 students so they can have a food supply over the weekend,” Conklin said.

Since they started their backpack program, they’ve turned 2-million pounds of rescued food into 1.6 million meals.

Conklin says their impact proves that food rescues like Cultivate can help feed kids and reduce food waste in other communities too.

“Food rescue companies had traditionally been in large cities like Indianapolis, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh but we’re also showing a model that can exist in much smaller areas like Fort Wayne, Merrillville, and Evansville,” he said.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, they’re doing something special for families in need of meals.

They partnered with Juday Creek Golf Course, Ivy Tech, and Katharos Catering to bring in enough turkey, stuffing, and sides to provide 300 Thanksgiving meals for Ivy Tech and South Bend Community School students.

While food insecurity is something people struggle with year-round, Thanksgiving can be extra tough as a holiday that revolves around what’s at the dinner table.

“We typically make frozen meals. We don’t typically cater hot meals, but at Thanksgiving time, there are a lot of families that struggle having that traditional Thanksgiving meal,” Conklin said.

Taking a little time to recognize their own achievements before getting back to work on their next million pounds of rescued food.

To learn more about how to be a part of their mission follow this link to their website.

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