Food Recovery Program Would Create 24-Hour Hotline, Buy New Fridges

A Farm to Freezer volunteer works with surplus farmers market  produce donated to the nonprofitA Montgomery County Food Recovery program would be the first county-wide initiative of its type in the country. A work group assigned to study how it the program should work this week recommended starting with a full-time coordinator to get the ball rolling.

The county’s Food Recovery Work Group on Tuesday unveiled its recommendations for how to use $200,000 allotted to the program this budget year.

The group recommended the county hire a $60,000-a-year coordinator who would reach out to restaurants, grocery stores, caterers, farm markets and other institutions with cafeterias to collect extra, unused food before it is spoiled and get that food to local food banks and other providers for those in need.

The recommendations also say county facilities such as the MCPS Food Production Facility, Department of Liquor Control Warehouse and commercial kitchen spaces could be used to store large amounts of food from caterers or, for example, a grocery store that loses power.

A key part of the program would be connecting those with extra food with providers who can store it in a timely fashion.

The Work Group recommended setting up a 24-hour food recovery hotline for those who want to donate. The network would also include a web-based recovery tool, something discussed at a Montgomery County hackathon earlier this year.

There would also be window stickers, a logo for websites or other visible signs provided to restaurants, farmers, caterers or other food providers who take part in the Food Recovery program.

A big chunk of the money — $100,000 — would go toward grants to help existing nonprofits buy new refrigerators, freezers, coolers or a refrigerated truck. Another $35,000 would be reserved to help pay for any of the marketing campaign or new technology.


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