Colorado Springs Food Rescue: Food Redistribution

Words: CC Students Jonah Goldman and Brendan Chin 

Under the gentle gaze of majestic Pike’s Peak, something inspiring is happening. Wheels are turning in Colorado Springs—bike wheels. A group of determined, mission-driven people have decided to address the problems of excessive food waste and widespread hunger. Using little more than bike trailers, volunteers, and their passion for conservation, Colorado Springs Food Rescue (CSFR) has emerged as a leader in food redistribution.

It all started last September when Colorado College students Shane Lorry, Meredith Bird, John Orrell, and Sanjay Roberts put their vision to action. After working for the Boulder Food Rescue last summer, Shane decided to bring the same important work to Colorado Springs. CSFR has already made a significant impact in reforming the way we think about food and food waste. CSFR operates under the “Good Samaritan Food Donation Act” passed in 1996, allowing food distributors to donate food to CP3 non-profit organizations like CSFR. Shane articulates CSFR's mission:

"As it is, around 40 percent of food produced in this country is thrown away before it’s eaten, while 15 million or more Americans are at risk of hunger."

“We’re trying to reshape the food waste redistribution systems that we have in place now. As it is, around 40 percent of food produced in this country is thrown away before it’s eaten, while 15 million or more Americans are at risk of hunger. Something needs to be done about this.”

Food that normally goes to waste—ranging from loaves of bread to fresh produce—is loaded on a trailer, hitched to the back of a bike, and man-powered directly to places like community kitchens, low-income housing projects, and homeless shelters. John notes that, “At the beginning of September, this didn’t exist, and now we are actively rescuing food with a large number of volunteers and being supported by all sorts of members from the community.”

"We call this a just-in-time food rescue model. We bike the food directly to an organization that is going to redistribute it that day."

“We call this a just-in-time food rescue model. We bike the food directly to an organization that is going to redistribute it that day,” Shane grins. “We have a whole bunch of bike trailers in our fleet. The newest ones are capable of holding around 150 to 200 pounds of food, and they hook right onto the back wheel.” What started as only four passionate students rescuing food from Rastall’s Cafeteria on the Colorado College campus has grown to include over one hundred volunteers, five donors, four recipient organizations, and 2,000 pounds of food already rescued.

CSFR recently co-sponsored an event called, “Food For Thought: A Community Conversation.” Local food-related organizations, food companies, and various groups from Colorado College and the Springs were present, furthering the efforts to integrate the school and the local community. As CSFR expands their efforts, they have connected with community members who have volunteered to bring the saved food to the needy. Community involvement is vital to the future success of the food rescue, ensuring consistent redistribution of food even when students are gone for holidays and summer months.

On the 24th of January, CSFR will have their next community event.

On the 24th of January, CSFR will have their next community event, co-sponsored by the Colorado College Alumni Office. The fundraiser will be held at the Smokebrush Foundation, 515 Manitou Avenue in Manitou Springs, and will include music, food, and refreshments. These festivities celebrate not only the emergence of the CSFR in Colorado Springs but also the community participation and involvement that will help sustain CSFR for years to come. We encourage everyone to support or volunteer for CSFR as they take another step both in the mission of ending hunger and stopping food waste, and in the bringing together of the larger Colorado Springs community into a tighter network of neighbors, makers, bakers and shakers.