For homeless shelters across the globe, food shortages are a constant, pressing reality. On the other hand, restaurants deal with a baffling amount of leftovers. Because of this, apps like MealTech are helping facilitate donations, while select farms are growing produce for the needy. To alleviate waste issues at football games and do some good, Texas Christian University students are hauling tons of leftovers to shelters.
The donations are coordinated by the TCU Food Recovery Network, a student organization that works to eliminate food waste on campus, and Sodexo, the university’s food service company. The student organization also delivers leftovers from the campus dining hall to Union Gospel Mission twice a week.
With up to 40% of food supply wasted annually in the United States alone, it’s good to know perfectly good coleslaw isn’t being tossed. The Food Recovery Network, led by senior student Megan McCracken, also volunteers to serve their donations personally.
“People really want to help out, but they don’t know how to help out sometimes,” [food services director Robert] Clethan said. “They just need to know there’s a place like this that can use things like that.”
Thanks to TCU, Union Gospel feeds nearly 300 residents three times a day. Now that’s a feast!
While Houston Bike Share donated nearly 450 bicycles to Harvey victims, thousands are still looking to replace their cars. In an unusual turn of events, Burning Man festival-goers abandoned around 5,000 bicycles after 9 days of partying. It’s a wasteful mindset, but the ditched bicycles will go to victims in Houston and the Caribbean, refurbished like new.
“Bikes can enable somebody who may have lost their home and staying with a friend, they can get to their job at a resort so they can continue to make money to help rebuild their home… they can get around on a bike and get to food.” [said bike shop owner Meg Kiihne.]
Kiihne managed to salvage 110 bikes, while charity Disaster Hack recovered 500. With limited funding, repairing and transporting the bikes will be tough, but plans to do so are well under way.
“A lot of people who lost a vehicle all the sudden can’t get to work, can’t afford to get a new car. Long after the TV cameras have left Houston there’s going to be a lingering need for transportation options,” says Stern [of Houston Bike Share]. “I think we can give away 1,000-2,000 bikes, no question.”
Naturally, progress takes time. Luckily, there are many who are willing to speed it up.
The aftermath of Hurricane Harvey has proved to be equally as hopeful as it was devastating. People are doing all they can for one another, from making pizza deliveries to baking thousands of loaves of bread. A month after the floods, this Texan mom continues to give back, using her coupon collection to help victims.
“Many hurricane evacuees are asking for pampers, wipes and formula. I don’t have any of that stuff in my stockpile but I have tons of coupons for them,”
Kimberly Gager collected coupons to the extreme, enough to stockpile goods to fill her garage. Neighbors have also helped fund her cause, in addition to contacting those in need of assistance.
“It is definitely a second job. I get very little sleep… Once I finish my daytime job, I am hitting the store. Sometimes I even do this during lunch, before work, everything.”
Like any working mom, Gager can’t avoid the wrath of exhaustion. However, she remains passionate about helping others, having been the victim of hurricane damage back in 1999. Gager continues to donate items, proving that being a hoarder can truly come in handy.
When it comes to natural disasters, no one is safe. Hurricane Harvey, which rampaged around Houston, ruined homes and establishments alike. While many are eager to help, people need to be mindful of the appropriate measures to take. Some, like Houston Bike Share, are going the extra mile by helping victims ride out the damage by giving them free bicycles.
“We’re really pushing this as helping someone who lost a vehicle, but we also have cases where there’s families asking if we have kids’ bikes so their kids would be able to bike to school, because without a family car, they’re running around not knowing the best way to get who where,”
The storm destroyed nearly a million cars, a tragedy for 94.4% of Houston households that use them. Insurance is saving the day for 85% of car insurance holders, but leaving the remaining 15% in the dust.
“You’ve got some people who have been displaced to areas where they can’t take their regular form of public transportation. And so we’re open to those applicants as well.”
As of today, bike manufacturing companies have donated around 450 bicycles. That should be keeping the Houston ball rolling!
As world hunger continues to plague millions, the food industry is playing a more active role in giving back. Soup kitchens are becoming abundant, and now fast food chains are doing their part. Pizza Hut employees from Sugar Land are delivering free meals to Hurricane Harvey victims — by kayak.
“They waded in the water, as far as they could, to get to all these people and they’re just so happy to see them. So happy to see Pizza Hut,” [chain owner] Habib laughed. “One woman was like, ‘You’ve got a customer for life.’ That made me smile.”
The last time pizza made me this happy was… well, when I last ordered a pizza. In just a few days, the Sugar Land branch delivered 120 pizzas.
“We are so proud of our team for seeing a need, stepping up and helping the community in a time of devastation,”
Habib herself braved deep waters despite being 6 months pregnant. To top it all off, the pizzas remained “steaming” in their heat-locking boxes. Now that’s five-star customer service.