"Why is so much food being wasted in this country?"
Overproduction. Because the majority of participants in our vast system of food (over)production are focused on their respective profit margins and are thus unwilling to spend the resources that it takes to get their excesses dealt with responsibly, they are generally NOT motivated to address this problem of food waste. Companies are generally unwilling to reduce profit margins by either, on the front end, cutting back their production or, on the back end, handling their excesses responsibly. And neither is our government stepping in/up to address this problem of food waste. The result? Food keeps being overproduced, and the resulting excesses keep NOT being handled responsibly. Thus, the environment and our society continue to suffer. As long as the root problem of overproduction continues, FreeFoodCommune can help mitigate its damaging consequences by getting excess food diverted from landfills to people.
"Freeganism sounds great, but dumpsters are dirty and I don't wanna go into them. What can I do?"
Answer: If you live in Atlanta, you're in luck! Because this is where FreeFoodCommune is located. You can be a Freegan without EVER dumpster diving yourself. We do all the dirty work for you! You can just show up on Saturdays and get stuff... off of tables!
And, if you still don't feel comfortable with dumpster dived food, come see for yourself. We rescue 90% of our food directly from stores, food pantries, farmer's markets, etc. BEFORE it goes to the dumpster, so you will still have plenty of options.
"Why do you call yourself FreeFoodCommune if I have to give money in order to get food?"
The "free" in FreeFoodCommune comes from "freeganism." We are a freegan food co-op: we rescue food then share it among our participating members. Members themselves also share in the costs of getting the food rescued and distributed: the costs of locating, picking up, unboxing, sorting, preparing, loading, transporting, storing, refrigerating/freezing, displaying, etc. the food. We are a co-op (self-supporting) rather than a charity (externally-funded), thus we pay these costs ourselves rather than have others pay them for us. Current operating costs for FreeFoodCommune total approximately $30,000 annually.
Besides, the food IS INDEED free to you as an attendee of FreeFoodCommune. All you are paying for to receive food from us as a Sponsor or a Grab n Goer is a "shipping and handling" fee, to help cover some of our expenses in getting this food to you. Even this token fee (for receiving food from our tables) is optional if you participate as either a Volunteer (10a) or a Gleaner (3:30p).
"Expiration dates matter to me. Would I be a good candidate for FreeFoodCommune?"
Answer: Probably not.
"I want to come on Saturday and get food, but I don't have a tote bin. What can I do?"
Answer: Then rent a truck and a pallet jack! :) But seriously, we usually have so much food to give, you really do need to come prepared to haul away large quantities.
P.s. How in the world are you going through life without having at least a couple dozen tote bins on hand!?
Question #6: So, I can count on getting a massive amount of food EVERY time?
Answer: Usually yes, but while many Sponsors often fill a large wagon with $400 worth of food at FreeFoodCommune, we cannot guarantee amounts this large on any given Saturday. The key for success in an operation of this nature (rescuing food, which is unpredictable as it is based upon people's willingness to donate their discards coupled with our limited ability to collect these donations) is: All FreeFoodCommune attendees come from NEARBY, with no expectations about quantity. We want for FreeFoodCommune to be a LOCAL group of LIKE-MINDED (waste-conscious and/or frugal) people. People living close to Edgewood Church can come get 5 Kroger bags of produce on a Saturday, donate $10, and drive the 2 miles back home. Voila: They have just spent only $10 for some food instead of $50+ at a grocery store for that same food.
"I am financially comfortable, and can afford to pay the exorbitant prices that grocery stores charge. Should I just continue to shop at Kroger, and leave the food at FreeFoodCommune for those who need it more than I do?"
Answer: NO. First of all, we always have more food than people. So you will NOT be cutting into anybody else's portion. Secondly, a person's own pocketbook is just one reason to practice Freeganism. A zero-waste lifestyle is beneficial to not just one's own budget, but to the environment and to society at large. Even if you have enough money to shop elsewhere, please come get your groceries at FreeFoodCommune instead, for the sake of the bigger picture. And if you do indeed want to help people who are needier than you are, then use the money that you save via FreeFoodCommune to go help them -- see Question #10. With Freeganism, everybody wins!
"I am saving thousands of dollars every year on my food bill by getting my food at FreeFoodCommune instead of at grocery stores. What do I do with all this extra money?"
Answer: Adopt a dog? Buy a chest freezer? Build a room addition? Pay it forward by buying non-food items for those NEEDIER than you are, e.g. sleeping bags, clothing, toiletries? The possibilities are endless!
"Can I bring my kids with me to volunteer?"
Answer: Yes! No age is too young to be teaching those kids the value of sharing, cooperation, and Freeganism.
"I want to attend FreeFoodCommune, but I work on Saturdays. What can I do?"
Answer: Quit your job. 😂
"I want food but I do NOT have a way to get to Edgewood Church. Do you deliver?"
Not officially... BUT... lots of our food DOES end up getting delivered to the needier members of our city every week, thanks to an army of foot soldiers who faithfully take food FROM our tables and trailers at Edgewood Church out INTO the nooks and crannies of some nearby food deserts. Some of our more talented participants even take the time to cook and/or can, in order to share with others! For example, Doug fills his car every week now with some of our rescued produce, and then spends dozens of hours canning it all for shelters like Hagar's House. Lynn often makes large pots of soup from our rescued food to bring to a group called Lost n Found Youth (LNFY.org).
We are so grateful to have people on board like Doug, Lynn, and others -- people committed to SHARING THE BOUNTY.
"What's the difference between Sponsors and Grab n Go?"
Sponsors and Grab n Go both shop inside the church from the same tables, so both groups get to choose from the same food items. The difference is that Sponsors donate a "cover charge" upfront, whereas Grab n Goers donate per item.
Whether you are a Sponsor or a Grab n Goer, you will check in upon arrival then wait for your number to be called. When you enter the church, proceed counter-clockwise around our 24 tables. Take reasonable amounts of our rescued food items, taking only what you can use without wasting :) and then take cold items from the coolers located in the bread room.
Sponsors: arrive 12:00-3:30p. You donate a $30 "cover charge" BEFORE entering ($50 if you do not bring anybody new with you that week and you're not a first-timer yourself). After selecting your items, you can simply leave without having to stop and get your items counted.
Grab n Go: arrive 12:30-3:30p. You donate AFTER selecting your items. When you are done, you will stop to check out, where volunteers will count your items and you will make a donation of $2 per item ($1 per item after 2:00p).
"I have food to donate. Where can I bring it?"
Answer: Ideally, bring it to Edgewood Church on Saturdays between 10am-12:00pm so that we can just give it out that day.
1560 Memorial Drive SE, Atlanta, GA 30317
If you are unable to come on Saturdays, then you can drop off PANTRY ITEMS on either one of these two covered porches 24/7:
1) 1118 Forrest Blvd. Decatur GA 30030.
2) 466 Waldo Street SE Atlanta 30312.
Or we will send a driver to you, to pick up the food donation from you, if you prefer.
If you are donating COLD FOOD ITEMS, then call us 404.822.5685 to schedule an appointment for pick-up or delivery, so that we can be sure to get those items straight into the Mooler.
"Why don't you donate all that extra food somewhere else instead of composting it or feeding it to animals?"
Answer: Once any food reaches our hands, our commitment to the donor of this food is to get it directly into the hands of the consumers themselves, not just dump it onto another org that may not have the same zero-waste standard that FreeFoodCommune has.
This commitment takes work, but we do it because we are in the business of SALVAGING FOOD not just SHUFFLING FOOD. 👍
FreeFoodCommune mission is specifically to divert resources from landfills to people, not to just move them from point A to point B, or from person A to person!
"How can I support FreeFoodCommune in Atlanta?"
Answer: There are many ways to participate!
We are a co-op, after all, a COMMUNE, not a CHARITY. We need members to not just up on Saturdays to get food but also do some of the other things that make this organization able to continue, such as:
-- VOLUNTEER on Saturdays to facilitate our weekly food distributions.
-- NOTICE food being discarded, then call Pam 404.822.5685 so that she can arrange its rescue.
-- RESCUE food yourself (get your hands on food that somebody is discarding), then contact us to make arrangements for us to get that rescued food from you: we can come pick up the rescued food from you, or you can bring it to us if you prefer.
-- DRIVE your truck/trailer to help with food pick-ups during the week.
-- ORGANIZE an "expired food drive" to gather expired food items from your neighborhood or workplace.
-- DONATE supplies: recycled bags, recycled containers, takeout food containers, tote bins, bungee cords, a tarp, a gallon of bleach, etc.
-- DONATE money.
-- CONNECT us to organizations discarding food,
-- SEND food-waste/rescue links to us, for us to post on the page.
-- BRING NEWBIES to our Saturday food distribution: share with other people in Atlanta this fantastic local opportunity to save money while saving the planet .
-- SPREAD THE WORD about FreeFoodCommune and Freeganism in general: talk about food overproduction and food waste, tell others about this Freegan Food Co-op, share our Facebook posts, etc. In general, market this program. Word-of-mouth is our most effective tool for growth, so that we can grow to rescue even more food and help even more families.
So instead of thinking, "How can I get the most benefit from FreeFoodCommune?" think, "How can I help make FreeFoodCommune not just survive, but grow?"
Cashapp $PamTheFreegan, Venmo @PamTheFreegan.
"I attended FreeFoodCommune yesterday, and was so excited at the bounty that I ended up taking home more food than my household can use. What do I do with all this food?"
Whatever you do, DO NOT WASTE IT! Share with others (neighbors, co-workers, friends, family...) Freeze it. Can it. Dehydrate it. Make smoothies. Explore new recipes.
The second best option is to feed to animals.
The last resort is compost. Always keep in mind the Food Recycle Hierarchy:
Note: 12:00pm-3:30pm at FreeFoodCommune is the period of TAKING FOR PEOPLE. 3:30pm-4:00pm is the period of TAKING FOR ANIMALS OR COMPOST.
"I live in Macon, GA (or Birmingham, AL... or Tucson, AZ... or wherever). Is there a FreeFoodCommune in my area?"
Answer: Probably not. As of this writing (August 2020), the only two options for getting food in this country still tend to be either:
Option #1: Full-price (retail: grocery stores) (Capitalism) or
Option #2: FREE (food banks) (Charity).
Yes, CSAs (community-supported agriculture) are a nice alternative to these two extremes. But our model (viz, a FREEGAN-based COOPERATIVE) is even more rare than CSAs, and rather unique. FreeFoodCommune exists in that huge middle ground between Capitalism and Charity, both of which have proven to be highly wasteful. A FREEGAN COOPERATIVE is better than either of these two widely-practiced endpoints of the spectrum because it is zero-waste.
"I want to start a FreeFoodCommune in my area. How do I start one?"
Answer: Get 8 tote bins with lids. 4 large bins: 30-gallon (these take 2 people to carry when they are full) + 4 smaller bins: 18-gallon (these can be carried by just 1 person even when they are full). Print 40 labels on your computer: ♻️Recycle Food Waste♻️ + your name + your phone number. Affix 5 of these labels to each of your 8 bins using clear packing tape: 1 label on each side, and 1 label on lid. Take 4 of these bins into a restaurant or grocery store close to where you live. Have the FreeFoodCommune Facebook page pulled up on your phone. Ask to speak to a manager. Tell him/her that you are trying to reduce food waste, and show him/her the FFC FB page. Ask if you could leave a bin or 2 there, and if they would put food into it instead of into trash can next time they are discarding food. If yes, then you can swap out empty bins for full ones on your 1st pick-up there. If no, then try another restaurant or grocery store. (Be persistent: there ARE business owners out there who care about more than just their own bottom line, and your message will resonate with them.) After you acquire food, then give this food out to people. It's a great time to be doing this work, because: social media! Right at our fingertips (keyboard) are so many ways to get the word out!
"Ok but I just want to confirm, is there a food giveaway THIS Saturday?"
Most likely yes, but always check our Facebook page on Saturday before coming. We never know how much food excess Atlanta will be handing over to us in any given week.
Ideally none, if people and organizations are all handling their own food excesses responsibly, i.e. getting their food excess distributed to people themselves, thus no need for FreeFoodCommune to rescue any of their food, thus no need for a FreeFoodCommune Saturday distribution to occur that week! We can dream, right?
<3, Pam the Freegan
FreeFoodCommune: Take what you need, share the extra, don't waste! ♻️