Austin organization helps fight food insecurity by saving unbought goods

Hunger Action Month

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Do you ever wonder what happens to all of the food that doesn’t get purchased from the grocery store? A lot of it goes straight to the landfill, but an Austin organization is working to save it to feed families in need.

In 2008, Allen Schroeder launched an organization called “Save the Food” after working at the Wheatsville Co-op downtown and realizing how much food was thrown out into the dumpster.

Now he runs the organization with more than 50 volunteers who spend their mornings going to several grocery stores and picking up the unwanted food products.

“Every morning a different volunteer is hitting the stores and picking up the food,” said Schroeder. “From the Wheatsville Co-op, Fresh Plus, Farm House Delivery. That keeps us busy, and that’s the scope of our work.”

Schroeder says food insecurity has increased within the city of Austin since the pandemic began.

“About 17 to 18% of the adults in Austin are food insecure,” said Schroeder. “That’s about 25% of children. During the pandemic it has only gotten worse.”

In any given week, Save the Food Austin is able to deliver about 6,000 pounds of food to food insecure people from 20 grocery stores. It all goes out as a traveling market where people can pick and choose whatever is available.

  • Save the Food Austin works to distribute unbought food from grocery stores to families who need it. (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Save the Food Austin works to distribute unbought food from grocery stores to families who need it. (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Save the Food Austin works to distribute unbought food from grocery stores to families who need it. (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Save the Food Austin works to distribute unbought food from grocery stores to families who need it. (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Save the Food Austin works to distribute unbought food from grocery stores to families who need it. (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)
  • Save the Food Austin works to distribute unbought food from grocery stores to families who need it. (KXAN Photo/Kaitlyn Karmout)

“If I have meat today, then I would stand and hand it out individually to make sure it’s distributed evenly,” said Schroeder, while handing out food at a market on Airport and Goodwin.

The food helps feed the mouths of several Austinites who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from.

“One of my proudest moments is when I connected with a refugee family that had just arrived in Austin,” said Schroeder. “They didn’t seek out city services, they were just trying to rough it on their own.”

On Thursday, Sept. 30, Save the Food is partnering with the Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers of Austin to raise funds for Save the Food. To find out more information, you can click this link.

Another organization called Keep Austin Fed works at the Austin- Bergstrom International Airport by donating unsold products like sandwiches and salads.

The organization launched in 2017, but product distribution dropped when travel did too, and there wasn’t surplus food to sell. The organization was able to launch back up on the Fourth of July.

Before COVID-19, they were delivering more than 10,000 meals a year.

This month is Hunger Action Month and KXAN’s parent company, Nexstar Media Group, is partnering with Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger relief organization. To find ways to help in your community, you can visit this link.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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