Wayside Food Programs recently received a $20,000 grant from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation and a $25,000 grant from the Sam L. Cohen Foundation to reduce food waste and improve nutritional standards for food donated to Cumberland County’s emergency food network.
These grants are being used to educate donors about the importance of donating nutritionally sound food to Wayside, which distributes food, free of charge, to more than 40 local soup kitchens, food pantries and social service agencies.
Food drives are an important source for the food that Wayside distributes. In 2015, 52 community groups hosted food drives and donated 65,450 lbs. of food to the community through Wayside. Wayside is working to increase the number of groups hosting food drives by 25 percent for 2016, while also improving the nutritional quality of the donated food. The food that is received through Wayside’s Food Rescue Program is also used to prepare the 13 Wayside Community Meals served each week and Wayside's five monthly mobile food pantries.
“We appreciate the hard work that goes into these drives,” says Mary Zwolinski, Wayside’s executive director. “We are working to educate our dedicated donors about making the best possible nutritional donations. We are looking for healthier foods like peanut butter or canned tuna and fewer empty-calorie donations.”
These grants are helping Wayside:
- Reduce the amount of edible food that is wasted in Cumberland County; and.
- Improve the nutritional standards of Cumberland County’s emergency food network.
Wayside’s Food Rescue program is part of a nationwide effort to reduce the amount of edible food that is thrown away. The Natural Resource Defense Council reports that 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten.
“This grant helps us provide food that would otherwise have been thrown away to people in need,” says Zwolinski. “This can really make a difference to many of our neighbors who struggle with access to the food they need.”