Today, from 4-8 p.m., Colorado Springs Food Rescue (CSFR) is having a fundraiser at the Chipotle, located at 17 South Tejon St. in downtown Colorado Springs.
By showing a digital or printed flyer to the cashier, 50 percent of the purchases will be donated to CSFR. Volunteers will be driving a car, called the Burrito Bus, to and from Chipotle.
“It’ll be picking up students at Worner every 10 to 15 minutes and shuttling down to Chipotle,” said senior Patrick Jurney, a volunteer for CSFR.
The money will go “towards the expansion of community-driven healthy food distribution grocery programs and our Full Circle Food Team (FCFT),” said Zac Chapman, Executive Director of CSFR. The FCFT is a group of teenagers aged 13-18 who “participate in food-system literacy training and lead community-driven projects for a healthier Colorado Springs,” according to their website.
CSFR was founded by Shane Lory in 2013 while he was a sophomore at Colorado College. The group competed in The Big Idea Pitch Competition in 2014 and 2015, collectively winning $15,000.
“Not going to lie—it was hard: really hard, but oh so worth it,” said Lory, Director of Operations, about starting CSFR. “Planning ahead can seem nigh impossible when you and your co-workers schedules are liable to change every month…the rest of the world has no sympathy for the subsequent flakiness.”
On the contrary, CC has numerous resources for guidance and funding. In addition to the startup money, CSFR is part of CC’s off-campus work-study program, which offers students flexible employment with federal financial aid funds.
Lunch at Rastall Cafe was the first shift for CSFR. At the time, CSFR had to work with Bon Appetit to rewrite their bylaws to allow for the donation of food. Currently, the lunch shift is done by CC students seven days a week, rescuing 60-140 pounds of food per day. That food is biked directly to either Marian House Soup Kitchen or Urban Peak Emergency Shelter.
Beyond CC, CSFR collects food from 24 other donors and distributes to 20 different recipient sites. Grocery stores are the biggest contributors due to “sell-by” dates on perishable goods. These arbitrary dates are put on items by food distributors to decrease shelf life and force stores to buy more food.
“It’s got anywhere from a week to three weeks to a month of health left in it,” said sophomore CSFR Landis Hackett, on food waste in grocery stores. “So we come in and we take the food that would otherwise be thrown away…and we distribute it.”
Nationwide, 40 percent of all food gets wasted, and 97 percent of that ends up in a landfill rather than a compost station. Compared to other schools, CC’s composting record is notable; in 2015, the college won the National Recyclemania Composting Competition, beating out over 200 other schools for the most compost by weight.
The mission of CSFR, according to their website, is to create a “more just, less wasteful food system through education, advocacy, and the redistribution of surplus food.” Since the organization began three and half years ago, it has diverted over one million pounds of food waste, averaging 30,000 pounds a month.
While talking about pounds of food is a tangible way to communicate with the community, ultimately CSFR is concerned with their social reach of impact (SROI).
“One of the ways that we measure SROI is how much money we’re saving the places that we’re donating food to,” said Hackett. “Really what we’re looking to do is create meals and offset food insecurity in local communities.”
By donating substantial amounts of fresh food, CSFR saves local organizations thousands of dollars a month, which they can then allocate to other areas of need, such as improving facilities or assisting individuals.
Another effort of CSFR is to expand the organization further into the community, since presently most of the organizing is done by CC affiliates.
“Right now our coordinator base is primarily CC students or alumni,” said Hackett. “We’re trying to move away from that CC-centric coordinator base and reach out to UCCS, reach out to the community.”
CSFR recently hired a new program director, Patience Kabwasa, to help expand their outreach. As a community member and communications major at UCCS, Kabwasa will bring new insights that will help create a more socially just and equitable Colorado Springs.
Additionally, CSFR is also introducing a new program called Fresh Food Connect, in which they are asking pre-existing gardeners to plant a little extra food for donation. Establishing this program will increase accessibility to locally grown food for neighborhoods that face the greatest food insecurity.
Showing support for an organization working towards a sustainable and equitable future has never been as easy as enjoying a burrito.