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Baltimore entrepreneur tackles hunger and food waste

| October 2, 2013

In America, we waste an unbelievable amount of food. Reportedly, as much as 40 to 50 percent of all food ready for harvest in the United States never gets eaten. And yet, “nearly 15 percent of American families experience food insecurity in a given year.”

food waste

Gather Baltimore collects 15 tons of leftover food per week. From epSos.de.

Talk about an unfortunate dichotomy. These statistics are enough to engender some serious head-shaking, but they spurred a whole lot more than that for Arthur Morgan. The Boston resident has made it his mission to recover food waste and distribute it to needy families.

Morgan’s initiative is called Gather Baltimore. Morgan and his group hit up farmer’s markets, food distributors and farms to collect leftover food that would likely be discarded otherwise. And it’s a lot of food—15 tons per week.

Gather Baltimore then hosts weekly “farmer’s markets” where needy residents can come pick up food. Finally, they deliver whatever is left over to charitable organizations serving families who need it most.

Gather Baltimore’s mission is so simple, so logical, and so productive that falls in the category of “Duh!” In fact, that’s pretty much what Morgan’s business partner Joe Hamilton told reporter Andrea Appleton: “It’s one of those ideas that when you see it, you think, How is this not happening already? How did we miss it?”

As it turns out, Morgan and Hamilton aren’t alone. Similar programs exist in San Francisco, New York City, and Philadelphia. On one hand, these programs are admittedly drops in the proverbial bucket when it comes to combating the massive problems of food waste and hunger in America. On the other hand, we have to start somewhere — and Gather Baltimore is determined to be a large drop in that bucket. Morgan told Appleton that one weekend he visited a food distributor and hauled away 34,000 pounds of acorn squash. (It’s scary to think that all of that would have simply been discarded.)

food waste

On one occasion, Gather Baltimore collected 34,000 tons of acorn squash from a food distributor. From Monado.

Food shelves and food support programs are notorious for being bombarded with nonperishable, canned goods (for very practical reasons), so the fresh produce provided by Gather Baltimore is a welcome respite for needy families. While Gather Baltimore has received grant money, which allowed them to purchase refrigerated trucks, it’s not exactly a gold mine, and expenses like gas add up quickly. Currently, they give everything away for free at their special market stands, but they’re considering charging a nominal fee in order to help offset expenses. At $5 or $6 for an estimated $50 worth of produce, the operation will still go a long way toward making fresh food available to Baltimore families. At the end of the day, here is a snapshot of Gather Baltimore’s impact:

  • Fresh, healthy food goes to families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it.
  • Farmers who contribute produce get a tax write-off AND don’t have to deal with disposing of excess food.
  • Perfectly good food stays out of the landfill.

This is the very best kind of recycling — everybody wins!

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Category: Food

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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