Vision 2020 volunteers take up fight against hunger, food waste

Published 10:34 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

Members of Austin’s Vision 2020’s Community Pride and Spirit Committee would like to partner with restaurants, grocery stores, and other food-related businesses to address both hunger and food waste.

Already, Pizza Ranch in Austin has committed to donate leftover food to the Salvation Army.

“There is too much waste in our world and in a restaurant we see this every day,” said John Tietje, manager of Austin’s Pizza Ranch. “We try our best to prepare the right amount of food and minimize waste, but we can only guess what the customer flow will be. Instead of letting what’s left over go to waste, we would be happy to see it enjoyed by those who need it most.”

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The Pizza Ranch will donate the food when it is available — not necessarily every day, said Shannon Ferch, one of the volunteers heading up the effort.

She and fellow committee members hope more business establishments will come on board once the program is known.

“We know that some places already donate food; we wondered, though, ‘What about hot food?’ ” she said. “That’s when we started to think about this.”

After researching the issues, committee volunteers began to help facilitate conversations between food establishments and Salvation Army to help them understand regulations regarding delivery and donations that ensures that food is preserved properly.

“One of the goals of the our committee is to connect people, organizations and businesses to help address community needs,” said Kristen Olson, chairwoman of the committee. “Not surprisingly, we are learning that Austin has some amazing business owners who will go out of their way to help.”

Other businesses and volunteers interested in the program should contact Ferch at 507-440-5909.

“We’re thrilled to see progress being made and are working hard to reach as many businesses as possible,” Ferch said. “You don’t have to donate every day or even every single thing that’s left over. Every little bit makes a difference and is appreciated.”