Local Chefs Recognized for Heroic Food Rescue Efforts during COVID-19

The Quad Cities Food Rescue Partnership added a new feature to their biennial event with the announcement of the Quad Cities first-ever Food Rescue Warrior and Member of the Year. 

Chris Carton, Food and Beverage Director and Executive Chef; Pete Vogel, Food Rescue Partnership; and Christina McDonough, Food Rescue Partnership
Chef Chris Carton, Pete Vogel, Christina McDonough

“Chef Chris Carton of the RiverCenter|Adler Theatre exemplifies food rescue on a daily basis,” says Christina McDonough, Chair of the Food Rescue Partnership.  “During the particularly difficult pandemic times in our community, the RiverCenter|Adler Theatre is recognized for Chef Carton’s initiative to confirm the ability to operate a safe community kitchen under the RiverCenter|Adler Theatre’s food license so that professional food handlers could volunteer to prepare and serve food that would have otherwise been wasted,” explains McDonough.

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Pete Vogel, Chef Yolanda Graves-Jefferson, Cassandra Nephew, Christina McDonough

Similarly, the Food Rescue Partnership called for nominations of the Quad

Cities first-ever, Food Rescue Warrior.  “Yolanda Graves-Jefferson received heartfelt nominations for her passion to rescue food and feed those in need,” says McDonough.  Graves-Jefferson developed a passion for donating excess food to local hunger relief agencies as the Owner and Chef of Blckpearl Catering.  “Graves-Jefferson knew increasing numbers of people faced illness and unemployment during COVID-19 and utilized her culinary experience and personal resources to feed more than 200 people every week,” explains McDonough.

The Food Rescue Partnership recognized the RiverCenter|Adler Theatre and Yolanda Graves-Jefferson for their heroic food rescue efforts during the Food Rescue Webinar Series.  Webinar recordings will be available for replay here.

Podcast: FRP Joins Other Eastern Iowa Experts to Discuss Food Insecurities During COVID

In the St. Ambrose Institute for Person-Centered Care’s latest podcast, the topic of food insecurity was the focus – Address Disparities: Food Insecurities and a Pandemic. IPCC Podcast

FRP Chair, Christina McDonough (Community Transformation Specialist at the Scott County Health Department), joined Mike Miller (President & CEO of the River Bend Foodbank) and Ann McGlynn (Executive Director of Tapestry Farms) to explain what it means to be food insecure, how the COVID-19 Pandemic has brought more awareness to the issue, and what programs in the Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois communities are doing to address this complex problem.

The podcast is available on SoundcloudSpotifyApple Podcast, and Google Podcast. It is a collaboration between the St. Ambrose University Institute of Person-Centered Care and KALA Radio.

FRP Awarded 2019 Food Recovery Challenge Regional Award

For a second year, the Food Rescue Partnership has won a Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) Regional Award!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presents the awards each year. “We applaud the Food Rescue Partnership for their initiative and innovation in reducing food waste throughout the Quad Cities community,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford in the official announcement from the EPA. “Thanks to their combined efforts, this community coalition has helped the Quad Cities reduce hunger, save money, and protect the environment by diverting food waste from landfills.”

fd_reccvry_hierachy_363pxw “The Food Rescue Partnership educates local food establishments about food recovery. So it was a natural fit to become part of the FRC,” said FRP Board Chair Christina McDonough. Some of the activities that helped cinch this award for the FRP include:

“Food Recovery Challenge participants are leaders in showing how preventing food waste and diverting excess wholesome food to people is an environmental win and a cost-saving business decision,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The majority of FRP activities and materials have been provided through volunteerism, in-kind donations, or grants from stakeholders and community partners. FRP stakeholders continually strategize new and unique opportunities to highlight its Members in Food Rescue and spread the food recovery message.

“This recognition is possible by the hard work and commitment of our stakeholders and community partners,” said McDonough. “Together, we are making the Quad Cities a community dedicated to eliminating food waste.”

Learn more and check out the other award winners at About the 2019 Food Recovery Challenge Regional Award Winners.

A Letter from the FRP Board

FRP Stakeholders:

We have been receiving and fielding questions about COVID-19 and food donation. Please know there is no correlation between food and COVID-19, other than the risk of increased food waste because of canceled events and business closures. Food donations are still being accepted by non-profit hunger-relief agencies.

Just yesterday, Christina coordinated freshly prepared corned beef brisket, cabbage, potatoes, and carrots to Café on Vine. Yolanda rescued Happy Joe’s Pizza from the West Locust Street location.

The FRP Board added a food donation message to the homepage and Lea continues to keep our Facebook page updated. We would also like to highlight community efforts that have begun taking place without direct Food Rescue Partnership efforts, and were inspired by pure compassion and willingness to adapt to follow COVID-19 recommendations:

  1. Chef Chris Carton established a “QC Safe Community Kitchen Operation” under the RiverCenter’s food license to prepare and distribute perishable food that would have been otherwise wasted. You can read about his efforts on our Facebook post here.
  2. River Bend Foodbank, The Salvation Army, Red Cross, and Scott County Emergency Management are collaborating to accept and distribute shelf-stable food.

This is an important time to provide food rescue education and awareness.

What You Can Do

  • Please reach out to your favorite food establishments and help facilitate food donations. If possible, track of your efforts and report back to the FRP board so we can document our efforts in the work plan.
  • Like, comment, and share FRP Facebook and food rescue messages. We’re wanting to get the word out that food donations can still happen, especially with all the perishable foods in danger of being thrown away at closed businesses.
  • Let us know if there are other community efforts, food rescue, or donations we can help share – we want to recognize that these efforts ARE happening in the Quad Cities to help get MORE of them to happen.

Together, we can make a direct impact in the Quad Cities by keeping food as a valuable resource.

Sincerely,

Your FRP Board – Christina McDonough, Pete Vogel, Lea Hensel, and Larry Linnenbrink

2019 Year in Review and 2020 Outlook

Dear Food Rescue Partnership Stakeholders and Friends,

As we ring in the New Year and a new decade, I would like to reflect on the last year and what is to come for the Food Rescue Partnership.

In 2019, we focused on our Food Rescue Recognition Program. We collaborated with the Iowa Waste Reduction Center to create table tents that recognize our Members of Food Rescue and provide tips to reduce food waste at home. You can see these on the tables at some of our Member locations. The recognition program also added Garden Ministry of Asbury United Methodist Church as a Member of Food Rescue bringing us to 17 local establishments that are participating in food rescue efforts.

I am confident Food Rescue Partnership Stakeholders and Community Partners will continue to be our strongest asset. We have 10 organizations with stakeholders actively involved from both sides of the river ranging from health departments, to non-profits, universities, private companies, and community members, and 11 community partners ranging from local, to statewide, to regional. All our outreach activities and materials have been provided through volunteerism, in-kind donations, and grants from your hard work.

To date, the Food Rescue Partnership has diverted more than 48,455 pounds of food from the landfill by making connections to feed hungry people, feed animals, and/or compost.

This year, I look forward to planning and hosting an inaugural trivia night and our third Food Rescue Workshop while continuing to maintain our food rescue outreach and education. None of which would be possible without your dedication to make the Quad Cities a community dedicated to eliminating food waste. Your hard work is making a direct impact to keep food as a valuable resource. On behalf of myself and the Food Rescue Partnership Board, thank you.

Happy New Year,
McDonough_Signature
Christina McDonough, Board Chair

 

Need to download a PDF of this letter? Click here.

Food Rescue Partnership Thank You and 2018 Year in Review Letter

In case you missed it – Food Rescue Partnership Board Chair shared the following with stakeholders, supporters, and friends to close out 2018.


Dear Food Rescue Partnership Stakeholders, Supporters, and Friends,

As 2018 draws to a close and we find ourselves in the holiday season, I want to express my deepest appreciation for all the work and support you have provided the Food Rescue Partnership this year. As we know from all our hard work this past year, waste and hunger know no season, but a community coalition dedicated to eradicating both can accomplish much. May your holiday season be filled with peace and joy, and may the New Year find you all safe, happy, and healthy.

As a result of the hard work and dedication of you all, 2018 has been another excellent year for food rescue here in the Quad Cities with many important landmarks reached. To attempt to list everything here would be to guarantee that some wonderful accomplishments are missed, but here are just some of the 2018 Food Rescue Partnership highlights:

  • Official receipt of the EPA Region 7 Food Rescue Challenge Award at the 2018 Midwest Food Recovery Summit
  • Presentation of a very successful and well-received Food Rescue Workshop for the community in October
  • Selection by Fresh Films to have a free 3-minute video and 30-second PSA produced as part of their Spring Break program. The resulting video produced by local teens was wonderful; debuted at a special reception at Augustana on September 26th; and the PSA began being shown on KWQC-TV6 soon after.
  • A stakeholder tour of the anaerobic digestion operation at AgriReNew at Sievers Family Farms in Stockton, IA
  • Election of Board Officers to new or changed Board positions
  • Highlights of our major speaking, community engagement, appearance, and media interview opportunities:
    • Midwest Food Recovery Summit
    • KWQC-TV6 Paula Sands Live
    • WHBF-TV4 Living Local
    • WQAD-TV8
    • Quad City Times
    • John Deere Health Fair
    • Farmer’s Market Vendors
    • Illinois Food Scrap Coalition
    • Quad Cities Lodging Assoc.
  • Calendar 2018 Members of Food Rescue

And all throughout 2018, the Food Rescue Partnership has facilitated and sometimes directly conducted the rescue and donation of food to hunger-relief agencies in the community.

These milestones directly reflect the work of our committed stakeholders, and FRP’s growing recognition and acceptance in the Quad Cities community. As we look forward to 2019, our mission to promote rescuing food for its best possible use plans to focus on maintaining existing partnerships while forming new ones, and providing ongoing food
rescue education and awareness to our community. Particularly exciting new opportunities to continue and expand our reach include:

  • Obtaining official 501(c)(3) non-profit status
  • Partnering with River Bend Food Bank to pilot and promote the Feeding America MealConnect Mobile App

Thank you all again for all you do. The Quad Cities is a better, stronger community for your efforts and support.

Best regards,
Pete Vogel
Food Rescue Partnership Board Chair

Blckpearl Catering Recognized for Food Rescue and Volunteerism

Yolanda Jefferson has been professionally cooking since she was 15 years old.   At age twenty, Yolanda fostered an extraordinary passion to reduce food waste from Blckpearl Catering, a full-service catering company, by donating excess food to non-profits in the Quad Cities!

Blckpearl Catering 6Food Recue Partnership (FRP) Board Vice-Chair, Christina McDonough, first met Yolanda at the Scott County Health Department ServSafe Class in November 2018 and describes Yolanda as a person that immediately captures your attention and desire to do more for others.  “Yolanda spoke from the heart to motivate other professional cooks and food handlers in the class to begin donating food,” said McDonough.

“There are so many people struggling, even if you aren’t homeless, sometimes finances are tight,” Jefferson explained.  “Two incomes often times isn’t enough to make ends meet or someone in the family might be sick with medical bills.  Food is one thing you can always count on bringing people together and making them happy.”  We agree. Yolanda donates a variety of remaining food from Blckpearl Catering events such as ham, potatoes, rice, and vegetables.

blckpearl-catering-signs-1.jpgBlckpearl Catering opened in 2002, and Yolanda took over and rebranded in 2009.  When Yolanda isn’t spending time owning, operating, and preparing food for Blckpearl Catering, you will find her cooking for Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc. and local churches.  When it comes to food rescue, Yolanda believes in “cooking everything” because she “doesn’t like to see food go to waste.”  In addition to Blckpearl Catering’s weekly food donations and Jefferson’s volunteerism, Yolanda helps organize the Culinary Throwdown each September to raise awareness and donations for Sickle Cell.

Welcome to the Member of Food Rescue program, Blckpearl Catering!  For more information about Blckpearl Catering, like their Facebook page.

Guess Which Well-Known National Restaurant is the Newest Member in Food Rescue

Last month, the Food Rescue Partnership welcome another well-known national restaurant to the ranks of the Member in Food Rescue program – Arby’s!

MemberFoodRescue_Arbys
From left to right: Kristin Bogdonas, FRP Board Secretary; Kevin Ramirez, Vice President of Operations for Central Illinois and Eastern Iowa Arby’s locations; and Pete Vogel, FRP Board Chair.

The franchise has been donating food and other supplies to Friendly House in Davenport for the last 15 years! On a larger level, Arby’s participates in the “No Kid Hungry” Campaign . Donations often include various types of meat, cheese, brown sugar, bread, and/or cleaning supplies. Last year alone, Friendly House received $1,000 worth of bacon from Arby’s!

Kevin Ramirez is the Vice President of Operations for Central Illinois and Eastern Iowa locations. Pete Vogel, FRP Board Chair and Kristin Bogdonas, FRP Board Secretary, met with Mr. Ramirez last month to officially welcome Arby’s to the Member in Food Rescue program. Mr. Ramirez said it all got started because they realized how much food was being wasted, and wanted to do something about it. Arby’s recognized that there are a lot of people in need and wanted to give back, so food rescue was a great fit.

Thank you to the Central Illinois and Eastern Iowa Arby’s location for rescuing food and helping to spread the message that food shouldn’t be wasted.

Welcome Word of Life Food Pantry as a Member in Food Rescue

There are two sides to every food rescue story; that of the donor and that of the recipient. The Food Rescue Partnership is excited to welcome a recipient, the Word of Life Church, located in Rock Island, IL, to our Member in Food Rescue program.

Word of Life Recognition
Board Vice-Chair, Christina McDonough from the Scott County Health Department (left) and stakeholder, Misty Sierens from the Rock Island County Health Department (middle) officially welcomed Dr. Geri Kruckenburg (right), the Director of the church’s food pantry back in August.

Word of Life Church works throughout the community to help those in need. Every other Thursday, Word of Life Church hosts a food pantry at Earl Hanson Elementary School in Rock Island, in partnership with the River Bend Foodbank, and on the third Saturday of each month, Word of Life Church hosts a community kitchen meal site and food pantry in the church’s basement. The community kitchen meal site and food pantry is open and free to the community.  This August, Word of Life Church provided meals to 114 families!

“We’ve seen the need in the community and wanted to try to fill it as much as possible,” said Dr. Geri Kruckenburg, Director of the food pantry. For more information about the off-site or on-site food pantry and community kitchen, visit the Word of Life Outreach page.

FRP Debuts Videos Thanks to Fresh Films

downloadEarlier this year, the Food Rescue Partnership was selected as one of two local non-profits to participate in a new program offered by Fresh Films – the chance to work with Quad Cities teens who would create a video and a public service announcement in just five days over Spring Break.

“I was absolutely overjoyed when receiving the news that the FRP was accepted to be a part of the Fresh Films Quad City Spring Break Program,” says Christina McDonough, FRP Vice-Chair. “As a community coalition, the FRP has a very limited budget and the majority of FRP outreach activities and materials have been provided through in-kind donations or grants. Being selected for the Fresh Films Quad City Spring Break Program gives the FRP a new and unique marketing opportunity that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.”

Filming
Students filming at Ross’ Restaurant, one of the FRP’s Members in Food Rescue

The process was a strong collaborative effort. FRP board members and stakeholders met with students to talk about the FRP and talk about ideas for video and the script. From there, the Fresh Films staff let the students run with their ideas.

Pete Vogel, FRP Chair said, “After hearing of our selection and learning more about this program, we rather expected a lot of energy and creativity from this group of young people, and we certainly experienced all of that. But what impressed me the most was the commitment to quality and to an ambitious schedule that they demonstrated. It was a joy to see such enthusiasm paired with the dedication to a project and a cause that they all came to embrace, and it shows in the finished product!”

The students wrote the initial script and it went through editing between FRP and Fresh Films. Then they got to use Fresh Films video equipment to take footage of the Quad Cities community and conduct interviews with some of FRP’s Food Rescue Members, including Ross’ Restaurant, Popcorn Charlie’s, and Outback Steakhouse.

“What’s really impressive is the amount of work the students were able to accomplish just over Spring Break,” says Lea Hensel, an FRP stakeholder. “The students asked great questions and had really neat ideas right off the bat.”

From the FRP Board and its stakeholders, thank you for the Fresh Films teams and the students that created our videos. Watch them below and let us know what you think!