MAKING AN IMPACT: Nonprofit helps reduce food waste while feeding those in need

Community Food Response
Community Food Response(KTTC)
Updated: Jul. 12, 2023 at 5:00 AM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Access to a warm meal is often taken for granted.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), between 30-40% of food in the country goes uneaten. That’s more than 133 billion pounds every year.

A local nonprofit’s mission is to address this problem in Rochester and redirect uneaten food to people who truly need it.

Three days a week for the past 30 years, volunteers with Community Food response (CFR) are busy picking up fresh, uneaten meals that would otherwise end up in the trash and packing them for hungry adults and families.

“We have grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals, businesses that donate their food to us,” Chris Tatting, Board Member with CFR said. “We provide them with the packaging, all they need to do is have it ready for us and we pick it up.”

The organization’s goal is to help reduce food waste in Rochester and Olmsted County.

“We serve about 200-300 clients a night, three times a week. So far this year, we’ve had about 18,000 clients, that’s about 54,000 meals since it’s three meals.”

Chris Tatting, CFR Board Member

Those numbers are expected to double by the end of 2023, according to Tatting.

“We just received so far this year 78,000 pounds of food to distribute.”

The volunteer-led nonprofit provides meals for anyone, no questions asked.

Tatting added, “Our clients don’t need to give us their name, they don’t need to register. If they are hungry and need food, they come by and pick it up. They can tell us how many people they need to feed, and we’ll give them the food that they need. We have people who bike up, people who walk up, and people who come in their cars.”

“They know Monday, Wednesday, and Friday they don’t have to be hungry. They can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

Jeanne Hoecker, CFR Volunteer

Jeanne Hoecker is a recently retired psychologist in southeast Minnesota.

“I tell everybody my new work is going to be volunteering,” Hoecker said.

She’s been involved with the organization essentially since its inception in 1993.

“I’ve done pretty much every role; I was even on the board for a couple of years.”

She believes being a part of CFR has impacted her and her community in more ways than one.

Hoecker added, “It’s a really fun project and it’s got a really good cause. It’s a really neat place to meet people.”

Thanks to volunteers like Hoecker, the group continues to rescue food from ending up in the garbage to help keep southeast Minnesotans’ stomachs and hearts full.

“We can’t exist without the food and the volunteers, so a big thank you to all of them.”

Chris Tatting, CFR Board Member

The CFR distribution center is located at the Salvation Army Social Services Center at 120 1st. Avenue NE.

Any leftover food that the nonprofit can no longer give out goes to a local farmer to help feed his families, which continues the mission of eliminating food waste.

If you’re interested in being a volunteer, click here. You can also make a donation to the organization.