Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to list all the reasons a new idea won’t work than it is to see why it just might? I’ve spent half of my adult life in meetings where at some point those gathered are asked to be brilliant on the spot and I’ve realized that it’s just a lot easier to poke multiple holes in other people’s ideas than it is to form one good one of my own.
Now that Community Plates is a few months into our mission of ending American food-insecurity through food-rescue, we’ve already encountered quite a few objections to why this is a good way to attack hunger. Almost all of them are valid, well thought out and helpful which provides us an opportunity to respond to a few of them so that we can all be better informed and charged-up to help.
Let’s take them one at a time.
Food-Rescue Objection Number 1: “The small amount of food we discard can’t possibly make that big a difference.”
I’ve heard this several times already as I’ve approached restauranteurs, caterers and grocers here in Norwalk, Connecticut (the location of Community Plates launch site/pilot)and the surrounding Lower Fairfield County area. I don’t get the impression that anyone is trying to avoid being generous; on the contrary, my experience with those who are hesitant to donate has been finding people that are eager to help but just reluctant to waste our volunteer’s time. As we consider the numbers however and through some early food-rescue experiences, we are finding that small amounts can indeed make a big difference.
I remember a friend (it really was a friend and not me, I promise) telling me how he got his first credit card as a freshman in college and how he worked himself into a whole load of debt by charging dollar tacos on his new card. He literally worked his way into financial stress one taco at a time.
So let’s call it the “Taco-on-a-Visa” principle:
We know from multiple studies (read an article referencing one USDA study here) that almost 25% of the food available to Americans is thrown away; over 34 million tons a year. But when you talk to people who purvey food you’ll find that everyone is trying to do everything they can to conserve and cut their waste. So how then do we get to that humongous amount of waste every year? One way it happens is by discarding a little bit here and a little bit there. I can imagine a chef or catering manager throwing food away and thinking to themselves “this is just too little to worry about.”
In some ways they’re right; unless of course there were people who would concern themselves with the little; this crate of apples here, those two bags of salad there, a few loaves of delicious end-of day bread, etc.
Community Plates is developing a logistical platform that engages those kinds of people. Food and financial donors and volunteers and community agencies who believe that we can end food-insecurity the same way we throw mountains of food away every year; a little bit at at time.
A small amount here and a small amount there can create something big for someone!
Over 50 million Americans are counting on us.