Sustainable Business Practices
The concept of food gatherers is simple good food should never go to waste as long as there are hungry people. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that at least one quarter of all food produced in the United States is wasted. Fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, grains, and other highly perishable and nutritious foods account for up to two-thirds of the waste. By recovering even a fraction of this food, Food Gatherers helps to feed thousands of people in Washtenaw County with a local resource which otherwise would be wasted. In 2004, Food Gatherers distributed more than 2 million lbs. of rescued perishable and/or prepared food. Food Gatherers also recycles 4-5 cardboard bales per month at 700 lbs. each. In addition, damaged or old product is disposed of and packaging is recycled, (cardboard, cans, and glass). For example, volunteers recently emptied 48 cases of bad pineapple juice and recycled the empty cans. In addition, all of the empty food containers and cardboard at Food Gatherers Community Kitchen are recycled. Several environmentally sustainable features are also incorporated into the warehouse design. These include: additional insulation in the office area to decrease heating and cooling consumption, extra large windows in the warehouse area to provide additional daylight to supplement electrical lighting, siding set out from the wall to reduce the heat gain to the exterior walls, the cooler and freezer are placed inside the building, rather than outside, to reduce heat gain during the summer, the warehouse is heated with efficient radiant tube heaters, so the thermostat can remain turned down, and the warehouse is configured with a mechanical ventilation system to reduce summertime cooling costs. Bait traps are also used for pest control instead of chemical poisons and insect sprays are not used.