Get Involved Spotlight: Keep Austin Fed

Jan 1, 2016

From Keep Austin Fed, this month's Get Involved spotlight non-profit:  

What is Keep Austin Fed?

Keep Austin Fed is a all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that gathers wholesome and nutritious surplus food from commercial kitchens and distributes it to area charities that serve hungry people in need. Our mission is to share healthy nutrition with our hungry neighbors by keeping surplus food out of the waste stream.

In 2004, founder Randy Rosens saved high quality catered food from an Austin Museum of Art Fundraising event at Laguna Gloria that was headed to the dumpster. The food fed a small group of women and children living at a shelter in south Austin. Last year Keep Austin Fed rescued over 500,000 meals, feeding hundreds of our neighbors living with food insecurity — the 1 in 7 Central Texans who don’t know where their next meal will come from. As we fight against hunger, we also fight for our environment by keeping food out of landfills. 40% of the food we produce in America never gets eaten. According to the USDA, that’s the equivalent of 133 billion pounds of food with a retail value over $161 trillion – each year. It’s a daunting challenge, but with your help we’re making a dent.

How does Keep Austin Fed work?

Our donors keep our volunteers busy by donating tons of food we transport to KAF recipients. There is no cost to donors or KAF recipients – we provide equipment, training, and support while volunteers donate their time and use their own vehicles. It’s a lot of work, but it’s incredibly rewarding. We keep good food out of the landfill, and make sure we get healthy meals to our neighbors in need.

We specialize in “just-in-time” surplus food pickup and delivery, and most of our donors give us prepared food — cooked meals, salads, sandwiches, etc., which have extremely short shelf lives; the food can be either hot or cold. For that reason, a quick response time and safe food handling is critical. That’s why we require volunteers have a food handler’s permit.

Some donors offer whole foods, such as crates of fresh produce, frozen uncooked meat, and bulk bagged salads. Others give us nonperishable foods. Still others donate a mix of all the above. Our volunteers also occasionally handle other items like health care products.

Donations must be in unopened packages or must not have been previously served. For catered events, we do not accept food in which guests served themselves and we require donated food be kept at the proper temperature. We also do not accept home cooked meals or food that has been stored at a residence.

Want to get involved?

You can help keep Austin fed in several ways, but our most pressing need is for more volunteers to safely transport food from our donors to our recipient agencies who feed our hungry neighbors. We also have many other volunteer opportunities ranging from photography to phone bank. To sign up as a volunteer, register on GivePulse or email us at volunteer@keepaustinfed.org.

Becoming a Keep Austin Fed Donor is an easy and free way to help the community. We welcome, and greatly appreciate, donations of wholesome and healthy surplus food from your restaurant, bakery, grocery store, event venue, or catering facility. As long as it complies with governing health codes and Safe Food Handling Practices, Keep Austin Fed will pick up, at no cost to you, any type and quantity of food or beverage and deliver it to a charitable organization that helps people experiencing food insecurity. To donate food to Keep Austin Fed, call us at (512) 831-3654 or fill out our online form.

We also welcome your financial donations! Your tax-deductible donation to Keep Austin Fed allows us to purchase more equipment like freezer bags and transport containers, identifying apparel, and other tools we need in order to continue helping feed our hungry neighbors in need. To make a donation to Keep Austin Fed, visit our donation page.

Together we can Keep Austin Fed!