Boulder Food Rescue is a non-profit organization whose goal is to create a more just and less wasteful food system. We facilitate the sustainable redistribution of healthy food to low-income communities.
Boulder Food Rescue (BFR) was conceived in fall of 2011 as a result of University of Colorado research conducted by two of BFR's founding members. They discovered that enough food is thrown away each day to feed everyone who is food insecure in Boulder and Broomfield Counties. In discussions with grocery stores regarding this finding, they learned that much of their composted food could not be donated to a food bank because the food was "too perishable," i.e., in the time it takes for the food to be picked up and taken to a warehouse, sorted, then redistributed to shelters and homes, it would be inedible. Additionally, some of the to-be-composted food could not be accepted by the area food banks because of policy restrictions. Food not in original packaging is precluded from being distributed by these food banks, which amounts to thousands of pounds of nutritious food being thrown away every day.
In light of this situation Boulder Food Rescue was formed to provide direct, just-in-time delivery of perishable food. In order to be truly sustainable, it was a central principle that food delivery would be done by bicycle and bike trailer whenever possible. It started with a meal in the park, where feedback from the community resulted in two core values of the organization. The first was that it was the meal that people most looked forward to during the week, because it was all fruits and vegetables. BFR decided to focus primarily on healthy foods, such as fresh produce. The second piece of feedback from the community was this: "we appreciate how you all sit down and eat with us." We wanted to break down traditional stereotypes of charity work, including the idea that the more privileged should serve the less privileged. We carry this core value of participatory structures throughout all of our programs. Recipients of food design their own programs, help by volunteering to set up their own grocery programs, volunteer by doing their own pick-ups, and give us feedback and desires that influence the way in which we do our work.
BFR first began pickups from just one grocery store, but quickly discovered that many organizations and people were in need of fruits and vegetables. Our organization now picks up seven days a week, 12 times per day from 20 different food vendors, and delivers this nutritious produce to 40 different organizations and grocery programs every week. We have rescued over 3 million pounds of food to date, 85% of which has been done by bicycle.
"We wouldn't be able to serve the quality of food that we do to as many people without you, especially produce & protein, we are able to provide adequate nutrition to those in need on a budget!"
- Attention Homes
"Boulder Food Rescue creates total magic at our building of 85 seniors and disabled. For the past few years their amazing volunteers (rain, snow, wind, and traffic), have brought wonderful food from local markets a few times a week; fresh produce, fabulous breads and pastries, salads and many surprises. Foods that some of us have never had before, and has made many new fans. Their service has cut our food bills considerably and is so convenient. They also come and cook us a delicious and healthy lunch every few months so we have the opportunity to meet some of these generous and thoughtful volunteers."
- Grocery Program Participant
"Each week, Boulder Food Rescue delivers serious quantities of Fruit, vegetables, fresh prepared dishes, sandwiches and more, to our residents…and what a difference this has made in our selection of healthy dietary choices. I must also say that several residents have said that it has made a great difference in the money we have had to spend on groceries every month! "
- Grocery Program Participant