Food donations impact relief organizations

Locally, hunger relief organizations rely heavily on the charitable donations received from area businesses.

In addition to the businesses listed in the accompanying article, other major chains such as Costco, Trader Joe’s, Panera Bread and Wildflower Bread Company donate unused food goods on a weekly basis to local organizations such as Catholic Charities Community Services, Solid Rock Christian Fellowship, The Salvation Army, Prescott Meals on Wheels, Stepping Stones Foundation and St. Vincent de Paul Society.

The businesses typically won’t just donate to one of these organizations. To spread the wealth, they’ll commonly have volunteers from several agencies stop by on designated days to pick up their share of the weekly sum.

“We’ll pick up from larger businesses on Tuesday,” said Elmer Moseley, president of Sacred Heart Conference in Prescott. “Prescott Valley St. Vincent de Paul picks up from the same places on Monday and then another St. Vincent de Paul picks up on Wednesday, so those big boys have food every day.”

Smaller businesses, on the other hand, are less likely to donate leftover food.

For many, this is simply because there isn’t quite as much food waste to be concerned about.

“We cook as soon as you order it, so we don’t really have any leftover to give away,” said Rosa Angelmo, owner of Rosa’s Pizzeria. “Wasting costs us money, so we try not to do that.”

Additionally, if there is leftover food, small businesses can re-purpose it for another meal, whereas larger chains tend to have stricter guidelines on what they can and cannot do with leftover, already cooked food.

“Our guidelines are stricter than federal regulations,” said Tiffany Talbot, a manager of the Olive Garden in Prescott. “A lot of stuff that we have has a reheat time of once, so once you’ve reheated it, if you don’t use it, it has to be harvested.”

For the Olive Garden in Prescott, this ends up being about 300 pounds of food each week that is harvested and donated.

“Sometimes we look at the amount of food and we feel guilty that we have to harvest all of this food, but on the flip side of it, you look at how many people we’re helping in the community,” Talbot said.