Waste Not, Want Not

For two decades, We Don't Waste has been recovering excess meals and redistributing them to the food-needy.

A child eating a fruit.
Courtesy iStockPhoto

We Don’t Waste all began with a simple question, says founder Arlan Preblud. “My wife and I are foodies, and I began asking people I knew in the restaurant industry, ‘What do you do with the food that you have left over at the end of the night?’ And they said, ‘We throw it away. We’ve asked agencies to come pick it up, and the response was not good.’ I asked them, ‘Would you be willing to donate your food?’ and they said, ‘Absolutely.’ And then I went to nonprofits affiliated with soup kitchens or food pantries and asked if the would accept donated food. And they said, ‘Certainly.’ ”

The evolution

“I got a tarp at Home Depot, put down the seats in my Volvo station wagon, and started by picking up prepared food— panned, wrapped, labeled, and dated— from caterers. Sometimes I’d get fresh produce, too. We outgrew that after a few months and got a van, then a 14-foot refrigerated truck, and in 2017 we found a warehouse with a cooler to use as a distribution center. It’s increased our efficiency and effectiveness.”

A man loading boxes of produce onto a truck.
Courtesy We Don’t Waste

How it has grown

“We now have more than 150 food donors, including the Colorado Convention Center, and they are protected by the federal and state Good Samaritan Acts, which basically say that as long as the food has been properly maintained and its integrity is intact, there is no liability. We directly serve about 60 agencies, which in turn distribute to smaller agencies to effectively reach about 190 community-based agencies in the metro area, as far north as Fort Collins and south almost to Colorado Springs. Last year, we put out 33 million servings, which equates to 10.9 million meals.”

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Workers holding boxes of peppers.
Courtesy We Don’t Waste

What’s next

“We’ve determined that there are approximately 50 food deserts within the city and county of Denver, where local populations have no grocery store within a half mile of where they reside. So we are developing a mobile food market to address this need— taking refrigerated trucks and setting up like a farmers market. We’ve started in the Globeville Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, which has been severely impacted by the I-70 construction.”

We Don’t Waste
Leverages leftovers for the hungry