Folks have been breaking bread for centuries, so why is so much food being wasted?
That’s the question a group of community members have been asking themselves. In response to food waste, nonprofit Sustainable Renton’s most recent project is a free grocery store, dedicated to getting food to vulnerable populations.
“There is no shortage of food that can be saved,” a blog post on the new Sustainable Renton project states.
The free grocery store has been operating since June, and held its seventh event from 5:30 – 7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 19 out of 915 S Third St. in downtown Renton.
Scott Kreidermacher is the mastermind behind the store, before this he would drive around and drop off gleaned, produce to parts of Renton from the back of his truck. He said he started gleaning after learning about how much food is wasted. Almost 30 percent of waste in King County landfill is food scraps and food soiled paper.
“It’s obscene the amount of food that is wasted,” Kreidermacher said. “There’s no other word for it.”
Then he partnered with Sustainable Renton President Lara Randolph to make this grocery store a project, this summer. Sustainable Renton is a nonprofit dedicated to fostering a healthier community and planet. Diane Dobson, Chamber of Commerce interim director, then offered the vacant storefront to the free grocery store.
Kreidermacher gets gleaned produce in partnership with Community Lunch on Capitol Hill, a service providing meals to people who are low-income or experiencing homelessness. They glean the Capitol Hill Farmer’s Market on Sundays, and he takes what they aren’t using down to Renton the following Monday for the store.
As the weeks go by with the new service, both attendance and produce has increased. In recent weeks, the gleans have been bigger, bringing more food down to Renton. At 5 p.m. on Aug. 19 there was a line for the free grocery store, and by 7 p.m. almost all of that produce was gone.
“It’s grown organically,” Kreidermacher said.
“No pun intended,” Randolph added.
Kreidermacher then takes the leftover produce to homeless encampments around the area. He said if someone donates food they request goes to a homeless camp, he will take it there first.
Since he has donated food for several years, he knows people living in some of the camps and what their food needs are.
The grocery store’s next date is Sept. 2. Kreidermacher said he hopes the store can expand to dried goods in the winter and eventually expand beyond just food products, creating a true free store with other items people need, like clothing.
Randolph said it’s hard for smaller nonprofits like Sustainable Renton to get grants to continue to grow, but they are always accepting new project ideas or volunteers to help.
The grocery store also has a donation jar for those who are able to help support to project, and those interested in donating or volunteering for Sustainable Renton projects like the grocery store, gardening and grant writing, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is also available at sustainablerenton.org.