Unsold food from ABIA donated to charity to reduce waste

The Food Rescue Program at Austin’s airport donates unsold, packaged food to Keep Austin Fed, a nonprofit group that gathers wholesome and nutritious surplus food from commercial kitchens and distributes it to area charities that serve hungry people in need . From left are Jacob Moreno - Assistant GM / QSR Store Manager. – Paradies Lagardere; B.J. Carpenter, Sustainability Program Coordinator at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport; and Lisa Barden, Keep Austin Fed Program Director. (ABIA photo)
The Food Rescue Program at Austin’s airport donates unsold, packaged food to Keep Austin Fed, a nonprofit group that gathers wholesome and nutritious surplus food from commercial kitchens and distributes it to area charities that serve hungry people in need . From left are Jacob Moreno - Assistant GM / QSR Store Manager. – Paradies Lagardere; B.J. Carpenter, Sustainability Program Coordinator at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport; and Lisa Barden, Keep Austin Fed Program Director. (ABIA photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Remember what your mother told you about that food you didn’t eat on your plate? Someone out there would be grateful to have it. That’s why Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is going to do their part to reduce food waste.

The airport’s food rescue program started on March 1 and, in the first month, 3,500 unsold food products like sandwiches and salads were donated to those in need with the help of Keep Austin Fed.

“We were kind of surprised to see really how much food there was, what kind of opportunity we had,” said B.J. Carpenter, ABIA Sustainability Coordinator.

“The great part about these is when we donate them they’re still going to be pretty fresh,” said Brian Kumrow of Delaware North, one of the two businesses taking part in the program.

Paradies Lagardere, who, like Delaware North, operates airport restaurants and stores across the country, donated a refrigerator to store the donated food which is picked up on weekdays and taken to Foundation Communities, an affordable housing provider, and the Rebekah Baines Johnson Center, which houses the elderly.

“Hopefully it would inspire other businesses either in the airport or outside the airport to kind of take a minute to see they can do and impact the community around them just by doing a small thing each day that doesn’t take much time,” said Jennifer Watson, General manager for Paradies Lagardere at ABIA.

“That’s the key, I think, is just to bring everybody together and say, ‘hey, we don’t have to throw this away – we can do something good with it and help a lot of people,'” said Carpenter.

“There’s always ways that we can help with keeping Austin fed, with helping those that need it,” Kumrow said. “We just have to look a little bit deeper into what we’re doing and just find those ways we can really step up and help the community.”

Lisa Barden is the program director of Keep Austin Fed. They’re one area non-profit picking up some of the rescued food and delivering it to people in need. She says every unit of food make a big difference in the lives of those struggling to find a good meal.

“As the summer approaches and the air conditioning bills get higher, they’re going to have to choose between either running their air conditioning or paying for food, and so a lot of them give up food first,” Barden says.

“The number of people who are involved in making this work rather that just throwing the food away, which would be the easy solution, is so impressive,” she said.

While the food rescue program is only two months old, Carpenter says ABIA wants to run it indefinitely.

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