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Dane County Company Donates Unused Food To Local Pantries

Donation of Dane County Van Helps Ferry Food To Those In Need

Corn at a food pantry
Charlie Neibergall/ AP Photo

Dane County has donated a van from its fleet to help one of the county’s largest employers reduce food waste and transport it to people in need.

The grassroots group Healthy Food for All is using the donated vehicle to help stock food pantries and community centers around Dane County. The bulk of the prepared food donations are coming from Epic, the health care software company located in the Madison suburb of Verona.

“In the spring we were spending about $150 a week on a van,” said Chris Brockel, Healthy Food for All executive director, who used to transport the food in his personal vehicle. “In the summer we knew our usage was going to increase, we were looking at somewhere between $500-$800 a week in expenditures just to move the food that we were able to get.”

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Brockel said they’re reaching out to other large companies with cafeterias that would be willing to donate unused food.

Since Jan. 1, the group has repackaged 42,000 pounds of prepared foods like soups and salads into smaller containers and collected 13,000 pounds of produce from community gardens.

“So we’re starting to get tomatoes and sweet corn, pie pumpkins,” he said. “Not only are we cleaning and aggregating that—we’re making it available to families. Anything that we have in excess, we’re experimenting with processing.”

Brockel said the project not only helps get food to those who need it, but helps reduce food waste. The Environmental Protection Agency has set a goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030.

Healthy Food for All is a project of the nonprofit Northside Planning Council in Madison.