Thursday, May 29, 2014

Food For Thought...Expired Food Donations Are Costly

All donated food in these boxes expired in 2013 or before.
Did you participate in this month’s Post Office Food Drive?  If you did, Thank You!  If you didn’t donate expired food, I thank you even more.  The Post Office Food Drive, also known as the National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive collected 16,202 pounds of food on Saturday, May 10th in Marshfield.  Sounds wonderful, right?  Unfortunately, 13% or 2106 pounds of the food had expiration dates that required the pantries to throw out those items and an additional 4600 pounds or 28% of the donations had expiration dates of the first 6 months of 2014.  The food that is recently expired can be offered to individuals and families on a take on your own risk basis, but can’t be used to fill food orders at the pantries.  As a result, 41% of the food is unusable by the pantries. 

Expired food is a part of every food drive, and instead of helping it creates a new problem, a 2100 pound problem to be exact.   As I am writing this I have a few ”visuals” sitting on my desk: a box of Macaroni and Cheese that expired on December 17th 1999; a dust covered can of Cream of Broccoli soup that expired in February of 1997; and the big winner (drumroll please) a can of Refried Beans that expired the year after I graduated from high school – hint, I graduated from high school in 1978!  These “winning” food items and their 2100 pound brethren have been hauled and carried and sorted.  They have consumed manpower, gasoline costs and will cost the food pantries yet again for a garbage dumpster as they now have to dispose of these items.  

Expired food also costs in perception since the food panties will report on the amount of pounds of food collected and 16,202 pounds sounds pretty awesome right?  It sounds like the food pantries are well stocked?  This year’s Boy Scout Food Drive brought in half of the amount of food then the previous year’s drive and 25% of that food was expired.  End result, our pantries will need donations to help them through to the next major community collection which is Winter Wonderland in November.  So please consider donating to your favorite food pantry this summer.  And while you are at it, could you be sure it’s not an expired donation?

Paula Jero, Executive Director
Marshfield Area United Way

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