TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – “Food is not trash,” Larry Agee said.
That’s the message volunteers in the Wabash Valley Food Rescue Program are sharing with the community. The program partners with the Vigo County School Corporation. The program works to redistribute leftover food from going to the trash. Volunteers transport the food from school cafeterias to local organizations in need throughout the community.
Larry Agee and his wife, Julie, have helped with the program since it started three years ago. They pick up food from Farrington Grove Elementary.
“We get here right as the cafeteria lunchtime is over,” Agee said. “We pick up Wednesday and Friday. We pick up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday food on Wednesday, and Thursday, Friday food on Friday. We have coolers in my truck, and we deliver to several places around town.”
One of those locations is St. Pat’s Soup Kitchen.
“We really appreciate this program,” Linnea Friesen, Director of St. Pat’s Soup Kitchen, said. “It’s meant a lot to us. The milk that we are able to offer several times a week when it comes in. It also just provides more special things, like the apples and fresh fruit, that is overflow from the school are especially valuable to the people that come in here.”
Volunteers said that people are often amazed by the volume of items that are re-distributed.
“We save between two and three hundred items per day per pick-up,” Agee said. “Multiple that by 18 and you can see how much more can be saved.”
115,000 items were collected from schools in the VCSC last year. The program is currently in place at a third of the schools in the VCSC. Agee said he would like to see this initiative in place at every school in the county.
It’s about more than just saving items from the landfill. Agee said it’s about the community.
“They benefit from their stomach and they benefit from their mind,” Agee said.
It’s an effort to reduce waste and hunger.
Allison Finzel with the Purdue Extension Office leads the program. She said one in six Hoosiers experience food insecurity. This program is an effort to help make a difference for those in need.
“We really need volunteers,” Finzel said. “It’s one of the easiest volunteer jobs you’ll ever do. You pick up at the school and it takes an hour.”
If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Finzel at 812- 462-3371.