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New Food Rescue Program Launched in Muscatine

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Feeding the hungry is a community wide mission in Muscatine, where the United Way just launched a new Food Rescue program, to deliver useable food waste from grocery stores to area agencies to distribute.

The demand on food pantries there has many stretched thin so there's a big need for just this kind of help

"Their shelves are empty all the time, so they're trying to restock them at all times," said Nichole Sorgenfrey, Program Manager for the United Way of Muscatine.

Thousands of people in this community go hungry every day:

"They just don't know where their next meal is going to be," Sorgenfrey said.

But, every day, perfectly good food goes to waste.

It is things like food nearing its sell by date, produce that likely won't sell, and overstocked products that need to be moved off the shelves to make more space.

All of it is totally safe to eat, but all too often, it is simply thrown away.

The new Food Rescue Program is looking to change that.

"I'm excited that we're keeping it out of the landfill and putting it back into the hands of people who need that," said Sorgenfrey.

The United Way is teaming up local agencies and four grocery stores to deliver the food once destined for the garbage to three different distribution sites in need of supplies.

"It's just to keep those who are in need fed," Sorgenfrey said.

The Hy-Vee Mainstreet in Muscatine already donates what it can to one area shelter. Now, it can spread the wealth.

"It's a real great way for us to help the community out and take care of a need that we have in this store to get rid of that food," said Matt Schweizer, Hy-Vee Mainstreet Store Director.

And this store has a lot to give -- 20 pounds a day on average.

That's 20 pounds that should end up in someone's belly, not the dumpster.

"We hate filling up the landfill with things that can be used by the community," Schweizer said.

This community is already looking forward to a bright future for this program:

"I think it will succeed. I don't think there's any doubt about that," said Schweizer, "But hopefully all food industry in town can take advantage of it so we really, really take care of the people in need."

"We're starting from the beginning and we're going to keep growing it," Sorgenfrey agreed.

But now, more help is needed to get the program off the ground.

Organizers are looking for volunteers to drive the donations from the stores to the distribution sites.

Sorgenfrey says it's a relatively easy volunteer effort that promises a big pay off to those who do it:

"You're helping get the food to the right people who need it," she said.

If you want to help, call the United Way of Muscatine at (563)263-5963.

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