If you watch Food Network for any length of time you’ll see those commercials for feeding starving children. You know the ones. A child actor with puppydog-eyes and a brown smudge of makeup carefully painted on his cheek stares longingly into the camera. A celebrity voice questions while a tear rolls down the little boy’s cheek.
“Where will he find his next meal?”
How can you watch and not feel guilty? I usually have to look away in shame, disgusted that I overindulged in food earlier that night. It’s almost as heartbreaking as watching those tear-jerking ASPCA commercials. (I still can’t watch those without bawling like a little baby.)
Restaurants have a lot of leftover food at the end of the day. I mean A LOT. Luckily at work, we donate to an organization that distributes food to hungry people. It’s a pain-in-the-ass prepping and getting the food from point A to B but it’s all for a good cause.
The food has to be cooked. This makes plenty of sense. The last thing a charity worker wants to worry about while driving from restaurant to restaurant on a hot day is a case full of raw meat spoiling in the back of his van… not to mention the smell that could arise. The food can’t be too old either. A day or two is ok. Nothing is wrong with the food. It’s just not super fresh. I’ve seen food thrown out that I easily would have hung on to for a few more days in my home fridge, but it’s good to see such strict standards. It must also be weighed and logged. Paperwork is a must here in case the source needs to be determined and so all of the food is accounted for, distributed equally and so on. Proper storage is important as well. Everything must be stored in containers, (usually our deep metal pans that we already don’t have enough of) securely wrapped and stored in our walk-in fridge. An entire section of our walk-in is set aside for this purpose. Real estate is at a premium in the walk-in since we don’t freeze anything but, in this case, the end definitely justifies the means. I mean, we could be saving lives here! It makes me feel good that less food is wasted.
I noticed the next day that the food was still safely and efficiently stored, soon to have a new home in a starving belly.
and it was there the day after that
and the day after that
A week passed and it was well beyond the point of donation. I walked into the kitchen as my manager was cursing and emptying the containers into a huge trash bin.
“What happened?” I asked.
“The fuckers never showed.”
That’s right. The only thing that kept the food from getting to starving bellies was that the organization simply never came – the same organization that brags about how they are fighting hunger by collecting food from area restaurants. I watched as organic beans, rice, hormone-free beef, chicken and pork were dumped into the trash – roughly 100 lbs worth. Multiply this by the fact that there are 7 other locations of my restaurant within 10 miles of us. Multiply again by the fact that our chain is not the only one that the charity collects from. What is this charitable organization? I won’t say – but it is a HUGE one… and nationwide.
They are supposed to pick up food twice a week. Turns out, they come about once every two weeks. Whenever they do show it takes all I have not to spit on them.
I’m sure there are organizations that do what they are supposed to do but I can only speak of my experiences.
Now, when I see the commercials with the child actor with a trust fund wearing clothes that were carefully scuffed with sandpaper and pretending to be hungry I still feel disgust.
It’s just not with myself anymore.