Cincinnati – In our daily bread kitchen, some days you can find steaks in the oven, fresh peppers on the cutting board and pastries ready to serve to hundreds of clients who stop every day.
It all depends on what the local grocery stores and restaurants think is extra food that week. Our Daily Bread meals are 100% recovered or donated, allowing nonprofits to reduce food waste in the region and ensuring that anyone can access hot meals.
To raise awareness of the effects of food wastage and what can be done to prevent it, the Hamilton County R3 source has organized its first “Stop Waste Food with Us.” Our Daily Bread was an organization and business that was able to highlight their work.
“A lot of food is going to be wasted here, and a lot of people are in need,” said Garland Butts, head chef at our Daily Bread, while preparing the day's meals.
On Wednesday morning, they served steak tips and mashed potatoes, donated from the Capitol Grill as remnants from a previous dinner service. Every morning, Butts takes those donations and turns them into a new hot meal to serve for free to clients near their dining room.
Otherwise, that food will go straight to the landfill, when one in six Hamilton County wonders where their next meal will come from.
“There's no reason not to donate,” Butts said.
According to Feeding America, in 2019, 130 billion dollars worth of food was lost across the country, but while food rescue has become a growing part of that waste reduction effort, Hamilton County R3 also sought to address ways to dispose of food in a less wasteful way.
Tony Stabach, County Food Waste Diversion Coordinator, started the day with “Wasted Food Stops with Us” at Deeper Roots Coffee, explaining how the 513 Green Certified business keeps most of their waste out of local landfills.
“They compost all their coffee grounds, they work to be more sustainable when it comes to composting in front of the house,” he said.
The process of composting, or organic recycling, converts food waste into fertilizer, and in Hamilton County, an estimated 30-50% of the R3 source may go into compost instead of organic landfills.
“Composting is very easy in Hamilton County,” Stabach said.
In its over-the-rain location, Deeper Roots' solution lies across the street. Findlay Market collects their compost, as well as food scraps from other business partners in the vicinity of the market once a day and takes them to their site composting facility.
The market also offers a residential program that allows locals to rent a bucket and dump their food waste for the market to compost for them.
“They put them in these digesters to turn them into nutrient-dense ingredients,” Stabach said.
Stabach wanted to draw special attention to that program, as there are many diversion programs available to businesses, but more than a third of what is spent on residential waste landfills.
“Consider backyard composting,” he said. “And try to buy what you're going to use. Think about what you're going to make, think about what you want to make, think about what you want to eat, and just buy those products.”
At the end of the day, Stabach said he wants people to consider the cost of wasting food, but not just through the lens of how expensive it can be to throw bad food out of your fridge.
If the food on your shelf rots, it goes to the trash, but if you decide not to buy it and it stays in the store, it is more likely to go to the kitchen as our daily bread.
“It's saving landfills and helping to provide food for our community,” Butts said.
Although Stabach acknowledges that it is difficult to avoid dumping food waste, he hopes that by exposing available options, more areas across the county will find ways to prevent landfills from ending up.
“It starts with all of us,” he said.