Community Connections: Symbiotic approach to food waste reduction | SteamboatToday.com

Community Connections: Symbiotic approach to food waste reduction

Deirdre Pepin/For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Steamboat Pilot & Today

Horizons Specialized Services and The Cabin at Steamboat Grand are participating in a pilot program initiated by the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. Through their food waste projects, YVSC is leading the effort to normalize food waste reduction by connecting local restaurants and nonprofits.

In the U.S., 30 to 40 percent of our food supply is wasted — that's more than 20 pounds of food per person per month, $1,500 per year for a family of four or $162 billion annually across the country. Consequently, the USDA and EPA have jointly identified a national food waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030.

In late August, Horizons' Volunteer Coordinator Tommy Larson and the Steamboat Grand's Food and Beverage Director Scott King negotiated the logistics of the collaboration. While the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was designed to protect good faith food donors from civil and criminal liability, it also helped incorporate procedures for safe food handling and storage into food donation programs.

Colorado Mountain College, a certified chapter of the Food Recovery Network, will be a mentor for Horizons and The Cabin. The Food Recovery Network is the largest student movement against food waste and hunger in America. It has 186 chapters in 42 states and has recovered more than 1.2 million pounds of food. Since CMC's certification in November 2015, it has partnered with LiftUp of Routt County and recovered 2,895 pounds of food.

CMC will work with Horizons and The Cabin to collect the appropriate documentation about the packaging, type of food, weight of food and date it was frozen. Horizons and The Cabin will determine a food pick-up system, and Horizons will create a distribution team. Food will be dispersed to adults living in Horizons' group homes, adults receiving support from Horizons who live independently within the community and those who participate in Milestones Day Program.

Food will also be available for families of children with intellectual and development delays or disabilities.

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By getting food to the people who need it, we can reduce the number-one item in our landfills (and second-largest source of methane emissions) and alleviate our country's food paradox — so much waste and so much need.

Providing food for people in Horizons' programs fulfills a basic human need.

"We're so pleased that Sarah Jones and YVSC thought of us," said Susan Mizen, Horizons' executive director. "We can definitely put the donated food to good use."

Providing food for families raising a child with an intellectual or developmental disability can make a difference in quality of life. Researchers have drawn parallels between the stress levels of those who serve in the military and those who care for a child with special needs. The emotional and financial strain of assuming various therapies, treatments, medical procedures and assistive technology can be overwhelming and all encompassing.

As YVSC tackles the issue of food recovery, we are connecting the dots in Routt County. Horizons is grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program and for the willingness and knowledge of industry veterans Scott King and the Steamboat Grand.

Deirdre Pepin works in resource development and public relations at Horizon's Specialized Services.

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