Four Ways Lakeview Pantry Fights Food Waste Every Day

Four Ways Lakeview Pantry Fights Food Waste Every Day

The United Nations estimates that 1 in every 6 people on earth does not have enough food to lead an active, healthy life, yet an estimated 70 billion pounds of perfectly edible food ends up in landfills around the world each year.*

There are many reasons for this waste of food – from consumer preferences for fruit without blemishes to some shoppers’ tendencies to buy overzealously. (Read more causes in the USDA’s full report on food waste in America here.)

As part of our mission to provide food for our neighbors, increase our clients’ independence and end hunger and poverty for good, Lakeview Pantry has a long history of rescuing this wasted food and distributing it to people in need.

Here are four ways we capitalize on food waste to help our neighbors in need:

1.) Our Food Recovery Program

One of the biggest ways Lakeview Pantry rescues wasted food in Chicago is through our food recovery program. Say for instance you’re shopping for oranges, and you come across a bag with one crushed orange. Would you buy it? Probably not. The store will likely end up throwing the bag in the garbage.

Lakeview Pantry has worked for years, though, to partner with stores so that instead of throwing away those oranges, they give them to us. We toss the one bad orange and are able to give the rest to people who will enjoy them.

Similarly, consumers rarely want to purchase food that is near its “sell by,” “enjoy by” and “best by” dates – even though most foods will still be  safe to consume for days or even weeks. So stores give us these foods, and we pass them on to our clients. (Check out these handy charts from the USDA if you’re curious as to how long to keep food after these dates.)

2.) Partnerships with Farmers Markets

Much like our partnerships with grocery stores, Lakeview Pantry also has strong ties with area farmers markets. So when shoppers pass up an oddly shaped, but perfectly edible peach or apple, farmers can donate those items to us.

In addition, many farmers who sell produce in Chicago drive a long way to get here – from rural Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. And it’s not exactly cost effective for them to drive into the city just to haul what they didn’t sell back home with them. Passing their produce onto us not only helps our neighbors while also lightening their load.

3.) Our Cooking and Nutrition Classes

Lakeview Pantry hosts cooking and nutrition classes several times a month at both our Broadway and Oakdale locations. With the help of registered dieticians, these classes focus on how to prepare Pantry foods in ways that are both easy and healthy.

Often our generous grocery and farmers market partners may donate fruits and vegetables that are delicious and nutritious but unfamiliar to the average Pantry client – like kohlrabi, celery root or dinosaur kale. But with the help of our dieticians, clients learn how to turn these ingredients into delicious dishes – and are less likely to leave them on the Pantry shelves or discard them when they return home.

4.) Composting

While composting is not the most common way we dispose of our garbage at Lakeview Pantry, this past summer, a volunteer at our Oakdale location began taking leftover produce from the Pantry and using it to compost in a community garden on the city’s west side. By doing so, she put the discarded food to use to grow even more fresh, healthy produce.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can prevent food waste by giving to Lakeview Pantry, visit our Ways to Give page here.

* from Feeding America and the Food Waste Reduction Alliance,