We share at family picnics, the dinner table, church festivals, and at countless other gatherings. We share food with our family, our friends, and sometimes this sharing helps us in resolving differences. It’s a powerful tool for building community, forging relationships, and taking care of one another and ourselves. In short, folks have been breaking bread together for centuries.
In our region of abundance we have so much food we are literally throwing it away. Food waste is a leading cause of greenhouse emissions as it slowly decomposes in landfills producing methane and other gasses. This happens while people are hungry, families struggle to pay for groceries, and local community meal programs and food banks are overtaxed.
With our most recent project, Sustainable Renton is gleaning food from local sources – farmers markets, grocery stores, foraged foods, and individual gardeners donations, and bringing it to our Free Grocery Store, at 915 S. 3rd St. in the downtown Renton corridor. This space has been made available by a local resident who is passionate about community driven humanitarian efforts in Renton and is invested in helping our most vulnerable populations.
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There is no shortage of food that can be saved and there is a need for more outlets for this food. Obviously, some food needs to be composted as it is not fit for consumption even for livestock, but before it gets to that point it has days to weeks to sometimes months of time to get into the hands of folks that could benefit from it.
In the past four years, prior to Sustainable Renton making the Gleaning Project an “official” project in June of this year, a small group of dedicated individuals (many already associated with other Sustainable Renton projects) have been collecting “waste” food and other usable materials. These gleaned and foraged items were then diligently, through an established email chain and phone tree system, distributed to families in need and to the tent cities and tiny-home villages around the region.
The newly-utilized space on South 3rd Street allows a spot for cooled storage, which aids in lengthier preservation, and can act as a hub where folks can come and get their food rather than having multiple meeting points scattered around Renton. This will reduce the environmental and monetary costs of transportation of the gleaned items to their end users. Deliveries will still be maintained to the nearby tent cities and tiny-home villages, as it has been before now, and efforts will be made to include previous patrons who may be unable to get to the new location.
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The gleaned items are free and always will be! We will have a donation jar on site for those folks that are able to pitch in for the associated costs of the program, with any overages going to support other Sustainable Renton projects. Donations or payment will never be asked for or required, but will always be appreciated!
This project is growing quickly! Please see the link on our web page for current dates and times for our Free Grocery Store. Spread the word to those that might benefit, sign up to volunteer to help out at the Free Grocery Store, or if you have a truck or other appropriate vehicle and the extra time, sign up for food retrieval. If you are interested in volunteering please contact email@example.com and we will get you busy.
See you at the store!
Written by Lara Randolph and Scott Kreidermacher on behalf of Sustainable Renton.