When I began working part-time at a local supermarket last year, I was shocked and a little bothered by the amount of food being thrown out everyday. Yes, the food was at or near its expiration date. And hey, food expires, right? But wasn’t there something I could do about it?
I thought maybe I could take the food home or offer it to other family and friends but was told I was “not allowed”. Okay, fine but why wasn’t the food being donated to local pantries and other charitable services? Supposedly, there were some local organizations coming periodically to pick up the recent expired food but I never saw sight of any of them. Besides, every night when I was closing the store, I found myself throwing out massive amounts of perishable food, like bagels and rolls, never setting it aside for any donation.
When I asked what could be done, my superiors’ responses were vague and inconsistent. I calculated the amount of loss every night (in my department alone) on average to be somewhere around $500. This was food that was still edible by all standards, except the store’s. Having high standards was great for customers, bad for creating waste.
Forming a Nonprofit as an Action
After once again reaching out to my superiors to see if there was a better solution, I discovered the main reason for the waste was because no one was willing to fully address the problem. I decided to put a plan into action- I formed a nonprofit business dedicated to taking the wasted food off the store’s hands (for free) and donating it to a local pantry. Being a registered business would give me the credibility necessary to win my employer’s confidence thereby allowing me to be the one to address the food waste dilemma. Problem solved. There would be no way they could turn me down now.
Actually, wrong. Besides costing me a pretty penny to register the business, when I reproached my superiors with the newly obtained credentials, I was told corporate would first have to grant permission. A few months later, after having heard nothing, I was left battle scarred and discouraged.
Turning a Negative Into a Positive Reaction
I decided not to let the red tape get in the way of doing something positive. I realized there was a lot I could do besides the food donation to make an impact. Yeah, initially I wanted to prevent waste and haven’t given up hope but sometimes its better to focus your efforts in other places of less resistance while the rest of the world sorts itself out. Actually, when I thought about it, all I really I wanted to do was help other lives and to do that all I needed to do was look around me and ask the question of what. What was needed?
The “what” has become BetterHood’s concept and mission. What can be done to impact the lives closest to us, the ones we see everyday? If charity starts at home, BetterHood is your neighbor, your friend, your family. As our organization moves forward we feel like we’re right on target, right where we need to be, in neighborhoods like yours, always looking for ways to help.