The Food Cowboy group’s mission continues to grow unique ways to alleviate waste and hunger in the United States, with new developments and liaisons strengthening their ability to do so.
The program was originally designed for truckers as a way to improve logistics between drivers with rejected freight and food banks, so that produce and grocery deemed unsaleable by receivers could be put to use instead of into landfills. Coordination between large catering companies and food kitchens was established via the company website, allowing leftover items to also be used for public consumption instead of thrown away. The free Food Cowboy app is available in app stores now (Android, iOS), and has been recognized for innovation by the USDA, the EPA, the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program.
Recently, at the 2015 FMI/GMA Global Sustainability Summit in Denver, Food Cowboy announced “an initiative that promises to revolutionize the way food banks work with produce growers and to help them secure millions of pounds of wholesome fresh fruit and vegetable donations for Americans in need.”
Growers are increasingly choosing to ship their delicate fruits and vegetables in Reusable Plastic Containers (RPCs) and on high-quality, reusable CHEP and PECO pallets. These containers and pallets not only offer better protection for the produce, they reduce waste by replacing the 400 million single-use cardboard boxes and nearly 80 million single-use pallets used each year with reusable, recyclable containers and shipping pallets.
In the fall of 2015, Food Cowboy will begin an exclusive arrangement with the RPC and pallet companies, in which they will be paid a small fee to track their goods. Food Cowboy, in turn, will pay the food banks a small fee to store them, providing funds that will enable the banks to build more cold storage capacity and extend their hours of operation.
Daily Table is a new, low-cost supermarket that features “ugly” produce. Recently opened in Boston by former Trader Joe’s CEO Doug Rauch, this and other wholesale supermarkets can be accessed by growers to sell imperfect items through Food Cowboy. In the past, these items might have been discarded as unsaleable in mainstream markets instead of sold at a discount.
“Food Cowboy,” says Mr. Rauch, “provides a much needed and innovative platform. We look forward to working closely with them as a key resource.”
Supporting the program is as easy as looking for the “Nothing Goes to Waste” promise seal and supporting retailers who promote and display the seal. The distinctive label means the food purchased has been shipped under no-waste conditions, as well as helping support the local food banks. Further support and the opportunity to get involved can be found at foodcowboy.com or by downloading the free Android app via this link or the iPhone/iPad app at this link.