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!

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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.

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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.”

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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!

Food Rescue Workshop Releases Full Agenda

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Click to download the Food Rescue Workshop flyer.

The Quad Cities’ Food Rescue Partnership is excited to announce the full agenda for the free Food Rescue Workshop on October 4, 2018, in Davenport, IA.

The workshop agenda features speakers that will cover food waste problems and efforts at a local and regional level, along with a panel discussion highlighting food rescue successes from The Adler Theater/River Center, Panera Bread, and Augustana College. The keynote speaker, Matt Finnegan, from Baked Beer & Bread Co., will discuss strategies to monitor food purchasing and controlling waste by utilizing food to maximum use, as well as through donation to local non-profit organizations, all while sharing how to engage and motivate staff in food rescue efforts.

“We’re excited to have so many well-known Quad Cities establishments sharing their food rescue strategies at the workshop,” says Christina McDonough, Vice-Chair of the Food Rescue Partnership. “Not only will speakers share their successes, they also have great insight into overcoming obstacles to reduce food waste.” In the U.S., we throw away 40% of our food, according to the National Resources Defense Council, while 21,590 people in Scott County and 17,330 people in Rock Island County are food insecure according to Feeding America.

The workshop will take place at the Freight House in Davenport, IA on October 4, 2018, from 2:00-4:30 p.m. There is no cost to attend, and the workshop hopes to draw professional food establishments and retail food store owners, managers, and chefs. Registration and more information is at foodrescueqc.org/workshop.

A Note from the FRP Chair

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2018-2019 Food Rescue Partnership Board. From left to right: Pete Vogel, Larry Linnenbrink, Christina McDonough, Kristin Bogdonas.

The Food Rescue Partnership begins the fiscal year 2019 with a newly-elected Board that includes some familiar faces and some new faces.

Newly elected in their positions are Kristin Bogdonas – Secretary, and Larry Linnenbrink – Treasurer. Meanwhile, former Secretary Christina McDonough will now assume the Vice-Chair duties while Pete Vogel remains Chair.

Kristin and Larry are well qualified to assume their new duties. We are confident the skills they have demonstrated as stakeholders will serve them well in these new Board positions. Christina has demonstrated a level of commitment and quality since the very beginning of the FRP, which came to be in large part due to her efforts as the Scott County Health Department’s Community Transformation Consultant. There is no doubt she will continue and further this legacy as Vice-Chair.

Our outgoing Board members did a fantastic job and the FRP is stronger as a result of their efforts and leadership. We thank our outgoing Vice-Chair Liz Hogan Wells for all the fine work, energy, and creativity she poured into the FRP, and wish her all the best as she pursues new opportunities in Florida. Similarly, we thank outgoing Treasurer Mike Miller for his foundational work with the FRP in providing valuable insight and leadership as well as positioning River Bend Foodbank to serve as our fiscal agent. Mike will continue as a valued stakeholder and remains a clear voice for ending hunger in our community. The Food Rescue Partnership enters this new term stronger and more vital than ever.

– Pete Vogel, Food Rescue Partnership Chair

Local Grocery Store in Eldridge Becomes Member in Food Rescue

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North Scott Foods, located in Eldridge, IA, is officially a Member in Food Rescue.

The Food Rescue Recognition Program has hit Eldridge with the addition of North Scott Foods.

Board Chair, Pete Vogel, and Vice-Chair, Liz Hogan-Wells visited the grocery store earlier this month to officially award them with their certificate and welcome them as a Member in Food Rescue earlier this month on March 9, 2018.

Staff at the store have been donating food since the mid-1980’s when it just “seemed like the right thing to do because otherwise, it’s a waste.” Since then, they have had some concerns about liability and were thrilled when we explained the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.

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Pictured above – Liz Hogan-Wells (FRP), Steve Grolmus (North Scott Foods Owner), Andy Lane (North Scott Foods Store Director), and Pete Vogel (FRP)

Remember that one? The federal and state law that protects companies and organizations from criminal and civil liabilities when they donate, in good faith, to a non-profit organization.

Typical donation items from North Scott Foods includes baked goods, bread, and pastries which go to the North Scott Food Pantry in Eldridge, IA and King’s Harvest in Davenport, IA.

Local produce takes a different route though and goes to the local animal shelter, Down by the Creek Animal Sanctuary in Long Grove, IA, and a farm that houses animals relocated about the closing of a petting zoo. This includes monkeys, a leopard, and other animals. Yes, you read that correctly, a leopard!

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North Scott Foods tackles two tiers of the Food Recovery Hierarchy!

What is really neat about North Scott Food’s donation strategies is that they are one of only a few Members in Food Rescue to tackle multiple tiers of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Hierarchy. They tackle both Feeding People and Feeding Animals.

Next time you stop by North Scott Foods, pay special attention to the front doors and let us know if you see the Food Rescue Partnership window cling hanging up and be sure to thank them for their efforts to reduce food waste by making sure foods get to people and animals.

New Member in Food Rescue – A Well Known QC Events Center

RCATThe RiverCenter and Adler Theatre are staples not only in Downtown Davenport but here in the Quad Cities.  So it was no surprise that when they wanted to become a Member in Food Rescue, we jumped at the opportunity to add them to the ranks!

Between events, receptions, and conventions, the venue’s kitchen definitely keeps busy! On average, the facility is able to donate 100 pounds of food each month to King’s Harvest, a shelter located just down the street from the events center in Davenport, IA. Being such a large facility, Carton says they are able to donate quite a variety of foods – canned foods, perishables, and proteins. Foods like pork loin, beef round, chicken breasts, fried chicken, fresh vegetables, canned product, and annually, they are able to donate premade entrees, sauces, vegetables, starches, and grains from a food show display they do each year.

Chris Carton, Food and Beverage Director and Executive Chef; Pete Vogel, Food Rescue Partnership; and Christina McDonough, Food Rescue PartnershipBoard Chair, Pete Vogel, and Secretary, Christina McDonough, conducted the official presentation welcoming the RiverCenter and Adler Theatre as a Member in Food Rescue on March 14, 2018. Chris Carton, Food and Beverage Director and Executive Chef, accepted the welcome on behalf of the events center. Carton has been with the RiverCenter and Adler Theatre for nine years and says they have been donating for at least that long.

Carton did share that one of the problems that keeps them from donating even more food is timing. Being an events center, most of their events end later in the night. At that time, the local food shelters, meal sites, and pantries are not open to accept food so it leaves the center with few options with the leftovers. But aside from that, they’ve been able to keep as much food as possible from the landfill by rescuing it to ensure its’ used as it was originally created – to feed people.

Great work to the RiverCenter and Adler Theatre! We’re excited to have them as a Member in Food Rescue helping the Food Rescue Partnership get closer and closer to our vision of a community dedicated to eliminating food waste.

Dairy Queen in Bettendorf Becomes Member in Food Rescue

DairyQueen(2)Next time you visit the Dairy Queen on 18th Street in Bettendorf pay special attention to the window to spot the Food Rescue Recognition Program sticker hanging up!

That’s right. They are the latest Quad Cities establishment that the Food Rescue Partnership is excited to welcome into the Food Rescue Recognition Program.

Dairy Queen Becomes Member of Food Rescue

The location boasts cool treats with a few hot eats and has been run by the same family for 41 years, owned by Susan Medd (pictured here in the middle) who is the 3rd generation owner. Her daughter, Karlee Lindorfer, and son, Kindred Priest, are general managers and will be 4th generation owners in the future.

When asked how long the location has been donating, Susan wasn’t even sure because it’s been so long. This Dairy Queen typically donates on demand – could be once a week or more infrequently, and typically food donations come from excess inventory ordering; occasional mistakes; when training new employees; or as a seasonal establishment, when it’s time to close up shop for the winter. At those times, Susan donates anything that is left at the end of the season, including chips and cheese, milk, tortillas, buns, etc.

Susan strongly agrees that food waste reduction is important to her business. “Why throw it away? Just because we can’t use it, doesn’t mean someone else can’t,” she says. And those donations go to a variety of entities in the Bettendorf area including nearby organizations and businesses.

Special Merit Award for Ronald MeddPlus, we learned something really interesting while at the Bettendorf Dairy Queen. Did you know that the machine used to make Blizzards was invented by Susan’s father, the second-generation owner, Ron Medd?! Back in 1984, Ron and his brothers worked with a manufacturer in East Moline to invent the machine that became widely used in every Dairy Queen establishment.

Great work to everyone involved at the 18th Street Dairy Queen in Bettendorf!

Kicking off 2018 as an Award Winning Coalition

Award WinningLast week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the 2017 Food Recovery Challenge Regional Awards, and the Food Rescue Partnership (FRP) is proud to share that our coalition is one of the Region 7 awardees!

In June 2016, the FRP became endorsers of the U.S. EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge to align local Quad Cities professional food establishments and retail food stores with national sustainable management of food initiatives. “Becoming endorsers of the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge made perfect sense for the FRP,” says Christina McDonough, FRP Board Secretary.

fd_reccvry_hierachy_363pxwMcDonough was a strong advocate for the FRP to join the challenge and as Board Secretary, she was the one to get the FRP registered as an endorser and continues to maintain the outreach activity records that are provided to the EPA annually. “Since our onset in 2013, FRP regularly refers to the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy (see image to the left) and while the primary focus of FRP is to feed hungry people, we also connect professional food establishments and retail food stores to local resources on feeding animals and composting.”

Aside from being among the great company of other awardees implementing amazing initiatives towards food waste diversion and getting food to those in need, the FRP has something that makes it unique among the others – it’s the only bi-state winner and actually stretches through two U.S. EPA Regions (5 and 7)! “This award is a testament to our extraordinary stakeholders and partners whose commitment to a Quad Cities that promotes rescuing food for its best possible use continues to drive us to be a community dedicated to eliminating food waste,” concludes Pete Vogel, FRP Board Chair.

Learn more and check out the other award winners at About the 2017 Food Recovery Challenge Regional Award Winners.