“I’ll give you six pieces of chicken for the price of four,” sighed an unnamed City Market deli clerk to a customer one evening around 8:30 p.m. “It’s all going in the trash in a few minutes, anyway,” the employee lamented.
All that food in the trash? What?
Yes, all of it. Every bit. Every day. In the trash.
The City Market employee reports that the store requires all of the hot food items left in the deli case at the end of the day be put in the trash, no ifs ands or buts. Trashing all the food is mandatory, the employee emphasized. They cannot give the food away or put it away for the next day, because of possible bacterial growth in food that has been held for hours at warm temperatures. Food items they cook that are immediately refrigerated can be held unto the next day, but the employee said the store won’t even let employees take the left over hot food home if they need it, because the grocery chain considers it “stealing.”
So every day of every week, week in and week out, huge quantities of baked and fried chicken, creamy macaroni and cheese, roasted and mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, collard greens and other items the store makes for its hot deli are tossed in the trash at every store across the area.
All this happens amid Mesa County’s significant hunger problem, and in a county that makes it particularly difficult for residents to get food stamps.
- The Food Bank of the Rockies (FBR), in its annual 2015 report indicates it is involved in 106 hunger relief programs on the Western Slope alone, and distributed over 5 million meals just during the fiscal year ending June 2015. On the Western Slope, FBR provided nearly 4,000 Kids Cafe meals monthly, and provides almost 2,000 Senior Totes filled with food every month.
- The Salvation Army serves over 2,000 people in its breadline every month, as well as serving more than 600 high school lunches and providing government food supplies to more than 500 needy people each month.
- The Community Food Bank in Grand Junction, which provides food to anyone in need, has gotten more than 20,000 requests for food in the last 3 years.
- Kids Aid sends 2,000 backpacks full of food home each weekend during the school year with kids who would otherwise go hungry without food assistance.
With this level of need and this level of waste in our area, City Market’s corporate office should do all it can to find some way to put its leftovers to better use. If the Kroger chain, which owns City Market, was truly a good neighbor and good corporate citizen, it would make all possible efforts to work with public health agencies to put that food to better use and prevent the waste.
In the mean time, we’ll have to keep recoiling at the thought of all the wasted food our neighborhood markets generate.