September is Hunger Action Month. In response, Whole Foods Market has launched Nourishing Our Neighborhoods, a program created to expand capacity and capability for community-based food rescue organizations to move food from where it’s available to where it’s needed most.
As part of the program, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods is donating the funds to purchase 19 refrigerated vans, as well as donating two refrigerated catering vans to community-based food rescue and redistribution programs to transport both perishable and nonperishable food to communities within 18 markets across the U.S. and Canada.
The vans will provide recipient organizations with 20,000 pounds of rescued food per week per vehicle, donated from Whole Foods Market and surrounding grocers and retailers. This equates to 182 million meals provided over the anticipated 10-year lifetime use of each van, says the company.
“Nourishing our communities is a priority at Whole Foods Market, especially in these challenging times,” said Rob Twyman, EVP of operations for Whole Foods Market, in a statement. “We’re proud to put forth a food redistribution solution to reduce food waste and provide both perishable and nonperishable nourishing foods to our communities.”
When it comes to getting food to people in need, the last mile is critical, said Whole Foods, pointing to ReFED’s COVID-19 U.S. Food System Review, which finds that hyperlocal support is needed to ensure distribution to end users.
Nourishing Our Neighborhoods will complement the grocer’s ongoing efforts to support food access and food recovery. Whole Foods Market donates millions of pounds of perishable and nonperishable food to local food banks and food rescue organizations annually. Individual stores also participate in a variety of local food waste diversion programs.
Whole Foods Market suppliers RightRice, Justin’s and Severino Pasta Co. have made donations to help fill the Nourishing Our Neighborhoods vans upon initial distribution to the recipient food rescue organizations. Whole Foods will fill the remaining space in vans with both perishable and nonperishable goods.