Having been in the food distribution business for four years, we noticed that in testing food drives to bring more specific higher quality foods to our students and families that there are cultural social issues which exist around buying food for FOOD DRIVES.
We would pick up foods in a bin from First Bank locations and receive things like five year old dented cans to high end organic products like smoked salmon. In between those low end to high end foods we would get Walmart brand beets to Annie’s mac and cheese.
Here is a post by the USDA on food grades: http://www.pickyourown.org/USDAGradeGuidelines.htm
When a grocery chain buys canned corn for example there are grade choices they make. You might see brand names in Save A Lot stores that you do not see in King Soopers. Private label brands hide grades from consumer eyes. Taste is a good indicator and having been an organic farmer I see quite a spectrum in canned vegetables in taste and quality and pricing of course. Walmart can sell corn for 50 cents a can and Kroger corn can be 75 cents. That is not all marketing dollars, some of it can be the grade they specify.
Food Drives that are targeted to my knowledge have been about the types of foods the end user wants. For example, some will say its for homeless kids so we want pop tops. That is eat and Go food types. But what about what is in the can with the pop top. All corn is not created equal. Costco has some amazing organic canned corn and it costs around $1 a can. It does not have a pop top. SO when you go to buy food for a food drive, what do you think about when deciding what top ramen you select ?
Value grade top ramen is around 17 cents a pack, whereas an organic top ramen can be $1.50. Which do you buy for those who need food assistance ? Food justice does include food grades in some citizens minds, but others feel they should appreciate whatever they get.
Jeffco Eats is maturing as we look at what we are providing for the 1000’s of children and families we serve. So in the future when we have a targeted food drive we are going to list the item we want and the food grade choices you can make.
What would you ask for if you did a food drive with a club or group you belong to ? What foods and food grades would you ask for ? Food justice has food grades.