A program that recycles leftover food from groceries, caterers, events and restaurants got the official OK on Friday from the Allen County commissioners.
The commissioners approved a no-cost agreement that allows for easy participation with Food Rescue US, a group that matches those with food with people willing to take and use it.
Tom Fox, director of the Allen County Department of Environmental Management, said the program, which has been operating informally for nearly a year, addresses the issue of the country's massive food waste.
As much as 40% of food in the United States is thrown away, he told the commissioners.
The local program has already worked with food-service providers at Memorial Coliseum, Grand Wayne Center, Parkview hospital properties, Proximo, Hoppy Gnome and the Pizza Hut at Northcrest Shopping Center to obtain food.
Organizers have developed relationships with Community Harvest Food Bank, the Rescue Mission, Associated Churches' neighborhood food banks and other groups that accept the food.
Volunteers pick up and deliver the food, Fox said.
“We are the conduit,” he said, adding the county bears no liability for the program.
Participants are protected by a federal Good Samaritan law, the Bill Emerson Act of 1996, said Jodi Leamon, the department's sustainability coordinator and program administrator.
Fox said because of the companies in the program, the food is high quality. He recalled that in at least one case, the program accepted 70 extra gourmet dinners after a charity event at the Coliseum.
Food preparers, who are certified, ensure safe food handling during transport, Leamon said. The program also accepts grocery items and produce, she said.
So far, 13 recipients, all nonprofit organizations, and 18 donor groceries, caterers and restaurants have participated, she said.
People or companies interested in joining should call 260-449-7879 or send an email to email@example.com.
Participants can sign up at www.foodrescue.us or get more information at acwastewatcher.com.
In other business, commissioners approved next year's prices for eight commodities used by the Allen County Highway Department, including aggregate patching materials, pipe, guard rails and road salting chemicals.
The county asks for bids on such products and selects guaranteed prices from one or more bidders who agree to provide the material if available, said Chris Cloud, the commissioners' chief of staff.