Growing amounts of 'rescued' food used to make meals for families in need

Every day usable food ends up getting thrown out, but the Twin Cities meals program Loaves and Fishes is rescuing more of that food than ever before to serve families in need.

Nearly every plate served at the Salvation Army's Temple Corps Kitchen is food that someone else nearly threw away.

"A red curry soup with extra meat added," said Katelynn Strawmatt, the site coordinator. "And then I have bread donated from another local bakery that I have cheese put on."

Every day, Strawmatt prepares meals with food rescued from restaurants and suppliers. All of it makes a difference.

"We could put on a meal, but we couldn't put on the level of meal that we want without those donations," she said.  

Those donations that are all collected at the Loaves and Fishes warehouse in Minneapolis. It's a combination of frozen, canned and fresh food items. The food is coming in by the hundreds and thousands of pounds, and it's adding up fast.

"Well, in July of 2019 we rescued 223,000 pounds of food," said Cathy Maes, the Loaves and Fishes executive director. "That's three times the amount of any other month in 2018."

It comes at a time when Minnesotans need it. Loaves and Fishes says 1 in 11 Minnesota families struggles with hunger. The amount of children is even higher, with 1 in 8 impacted.

"It could be the person sitting next to you in the classroom," said Maes. "It could be your neighbor who is a senior citizen and doesn't make amazing meals for themselves. And they're hungry."  

For Strawmatt, it is all about feeding souls and filling dignity.

"I think it's also that we value people, that we want to give them fresh, healthy food and that they deserve it," she said. 

Last year, Loaves and Fishes served more than a million meals. This year, they're on track to more than 1.3 million meals.