Sustainability at Food Bank of the Rockies
Sustainability has been a core value at Food Bank of the Rockies since our beginnings in 1978. Seeing how much perfectly good food was going to landfills instead of to people experiencing hunger, Kathy Hackwith Groth started picking up bread from area stores to distribute to people in need and started the Colorado Food Clearing House, which eventually became Food Bank of the Rockies.
Today, we rescue food from over 800 retail stores and 150 food distributors across Colorado and Wyoming. But food rescue is just the beginning. We are committed to being as energy efficient and environmentally conscious as possible. We believe that taking care of the planet is an essential part of our mission to nourish our communities. Join us in our mission to build a more sustainable and equitable food system for all.
Sustainability by the Numbers for Fiscal Year 2022
Rescuing food from landfills, local grower partnerships, and recycling in all forms help us be as sustainable an organization as possible.
Staff and volunteers enjoy participating in Food Bank of the Rockies’ annual Bike to Work Day. Some people, like Deb (second from the left), regularly bike to the distribution center for volunteer shifts and said, “It’s really cool to see that biking is of interest to so many staff and volunteers!”
Volunteer Jake has been trained to operate Food Bank of the Rockies’ cardboard baler at the 45th Avenue Distribution Center. In fiscal year 2022, the money we received from cardboard recycling helped provide the equivalent of 34,000 meals to our neighbors.
We have several different recycling programs. These include:
- Cardboard recycling, which includes the baling and recycling of cardboard from broken-down boxes and other packaging. Not only does this reduce waste, but it also serves as a revenue stream. In fiscal year 2022, the money we received from cardboard recycling helped provide the equivalent of 34,000 meals to our neighbors.
- Pallet recycling
- Single-stream recycling of common items (glass, paper, plastic, etc.)
The vast majority of the food donations that Food Bank of the Rockies receives is perfectly edible, wholesome food that can be distributed. In fact, we are able to distribute 98% of the food we receive!
Some amount of food and operational waste is inevitable, but we seek to minimize our waste and divert as much of it as possible. We actively seek out partnerships with area farmers, local animal sanctuaries, and compost operations to prevent as much food from going to the landfill as possible.
In fiscal year 2022, we were able to divert over 71,500 pounds of inedible food from going to waste by donating it to farmers and animal sanctuaries as feed. We also composted nearly 30,000 pounds of inedible food.
We source lots of different food from local producers, including fresh produce, tortillas, beef, and dry beans. Many of the producer partnerships are long-standing, and we have expanded to work with more local vendors over the last few years to source more local items. In fiscal year 2022, we worked directly with around 30 local producers. Some 20% of the produce we distribute through our FRESH Program at no cost to Hunger Relief Partners is locally sourced.
We are always looking for ways to save more energy and be more environmentally conscious. In the next several years, we plan to procure a fully electric fleet of vehicles, install more energy-efficient measures such as solar panels, and continue to increase how much we recycle, compost, donate to farmers, source locally, and rescue from the landfill.
- We earned the 2nd place Energize Denver Award in 2022. This award was presented by the Denver Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency and was given in recognition of the changes Food Bank of the Rockies made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to adapt to the increased need for food.
- Solar panels provide much of the electricity for our new Western Slope Etkin Family Distribution Center in Grand Junction
- We hosted a Sustainability Forum in 2021 with the other four Feeding Colorado food banks
- We work with a company to collect and recycle hard-to-recycle items, like K-cups and batteries
- We work with local recycling company The Happy Beetle to repurpose egg cartons
Through food rescue efforts by our team and our Hunger Relief Partners participating in the Grocery Rescue Program, in fiscal year 2022 we were able to divert over 38.5 million pounds of food from landfills to feed our community. This equates to a reduction of 8,175 tons of CO2 emissions! These efforts have consistently placed Food Bank of the Rockies as one of the top 10 Grocery Rescue Programs in the Feeding America network.