Greater than 34,000 kilos of meals was saved and donated to native meals pantries in 2022 due to the efforts of the Ottawa Meals and Group Motion Home, permitting meals financial institution shoppers to decide on meals that was rather more than simply an previous can of greens sitting there. somebody’s closet.

“It is very nice to see 34,000 kilos of native bread and produce in native pantries as a result of it means loads to the individuals who want to make use of them,” mentioned Sierra Schuetz, well being educator and Ottawa Meals- coordinator. “What’s additionally superb is that the 34,000 kilos of meals saved was from only one farmer’s market.”
Ottawa Meals saved 34,000 kilos of meals from one farmers market.

Group Motion Home employees visited these farmers’ markets round closing time to ask if the farmers had something they did not need to take again. In the event that they donated meals, they obtained a tax write-off on the finish of the yr based mostly on the variety of kilos donated.

Now, Ottawa Meals has extra formidable plans due to a $500,000 grant from the American Rescue Program Act (ARPA) via Ottawa County.

Discovering native options to starvation

“We utilized for ARPA funding to construct regional infrastructure to rescue meals taken off cabinets or thrown away at eating places and ship it to households who want it or compost it to create wholesome soil for our neighborhood,” says Schuetz. “We consider these funds will show that there are native options to well being and starvation, and that by constructing regional infrastructure round meals rescue, we are able to turn into a better and extra supportive neighborhood.”

Ottawa Meals is a collaboration of greater than 45 Ottawa-area businesses and people dedicated to ending starvation, selling wholesome consuming and supporting native farmers. Began in 2008, Ottawa Meals is housed within the Well being Promotion Staff on the Division of Public Well being.

Each three years, Ottawa Meals’s board members, staff and their companions meet to develop a strategic plan. The group receives about $8,000 a yr from Ottawa County to run this system, along with donations and grants.

“Our members are various, from meals activists, meals pantry staff, social staff, nutritionists, farmers, faculty employees and a lot extra,” Schuetz explains. “What’s distinctive about Ottawa Meals is that individuals from totally different organizations come collectively as Ottawa Meals to handle meals insecurity and poor well being. We’re a hyper-localized group that’s open to everybody.”

The issue is actual

Many residents do not realize that regardless of appearances, meals insecurity in Ottawa County is actual. Listed here are some statistics associated to meals insecurity, well being and extra:

  • 25,130 Ottawa County residents are meals insecure
  • 4950 of them are kids
  • Value stays a serious barrier to wholesome consuming
  • 25% of Ottawa County residents are ALICE, an acronym that stands for Asset Restricted, Revenue Restricted, Employed.
  • 8 out of 10 adults don’t devour the really helpful quantity of fruit and greens every day
  • 66.4% of adults within the Ottawa space are chubby or overweight

Ottawa Meals continues to give attention to these numbers and, due to a $500,000 ARPA grant, has revealed plans for large strikes over the following three years.

Ottawa Meals will use the cash to buy two new meals rescue vehicles, fund three full-time employees positions, meals storage gear reminiscent of fridges and buy the Meals Hero app, which can enable volunteers to be part of the county. meals rescue operations.

The Meals Hero app connects volunteers with neighborhood companies and nonprofits that need assistance transferring donated meals and provides.

The app makes volunteering straightforward

“The app is like Uber or Grubhub for volunteers,” Schuetz explains. “The app will ping that the bakery has bread to donate, and the volunteer can go on the app and say, The app will even present the place that bread can go so the volunteer can decide it up and drop it off.

“We’re enthusiastic about this as a result of we’ve so many nice volunteers already serving to us and this will likely be an incredible possibility for individuals who need to volunteer however could have some bodily/lifting limitations. I feel it is going to create nice new relationships inside the neighborhood.”

Ottawa Meals’s applications can be found to a wide range of neighborhood members, together with households utilizing meals pantries, farmers, low-income seniors, migrant farm staff, contributors in Ottawa Meals’s Actual Meals Can wholesome consuming marketing campaign, kids on summer time trip and immigrants.

“Ottawa Meals is captivated with bringing wholesome meals to meals pantries and different entry factors for households who’re hungry and/or unhealthy,” says Schuetz.

To entry Ottawa Meals’s applications, go to ottawafood.org/findfood/ to request a brochure or use the Discover Meals database to discover a meals pantry close to you. To work or volunteer with Ottawa Meals, contact Schuetz at sschueta@miottawa.org.



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