A Ride For Health Equity with Denver Food Rescue

There is a whole lot of food waste in the U.S., and a huge incidence of food insecurity, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods. Denver Food Rescue has stepped into this chasm and is working towards a world in which race, geography and income do not determine a person’s health. DFR is a small non-profit organization that collects high quality produce from grocery stores, farmers markets, etc. and redistributes it (all on bicycles,for the most part!) to community groups throughout the Denver area. Their chief fundraising event is the Food Rescue Ride, a casual and costumed bicycle ride through Cherry Creek State Park. This year it falls on Saturday, August 25. Riders can choose their challenge: a 15 or 30 mile course, with or without a 100 pound trailer, and are encouraged to come dressed as their “favorite fruit or vegetable.”

You can register here!

The ride will kick off at 9:00am after a breakfast of bagels and coffee from Rosenberg’s Bagels and Delicatessen and Pablo’s Coffee (the breakfast will start at 8). A lunch party featuring beers from Ratio Beerworks will ensue post-ride as well! DFR is giving away two rechargeable Monkey Lights, an M210R and an M232R during the festivity.

We spoke with Amy Moore-Shipley, Denver Food Rescue’s Development and Marketing Coordinator, to learn more about DFR and the plight of food waste and distribution.

How did Denver Food Rescue come about?

DFR was born out of Boulder Food Rescue when their founders saw a TON of fresh produce was being thrown away at grocery stores. Yet 1 in 6 Coloradans are food insecure and lack access to fresh healthy food. BFR realized more fresh produce could be saved if it was redistributed directly from the food donor to a food recipient organization – instead of going to a warehouse to be sorted and then sent back out to recipients. And to keep financial and environmental costs low, bicycles and trailers were used for food rescue!

Can you explain your mission?

Our mission to increase health equity is an attempt to get deeper to the root of food insecurity. We know there is enough food – we throw away a 1/3 of what is produced! But what we don’t have are living wages for families to pay the bills AND purchase healthy food for their families – it can be a struggle to even buy food – and the food that is accessible for free or at a low cost is often highly processed, low nutrient dense foods that cause illness! We believe that healthy food should be available to all regardless of your zip code, race, or class.

What astounds you the most about food distribution?

The politics of food rescue and food banks. Check out a book called Big Hunger by Andrew Fisher. He exposes corporate ties to the hunger movement and Feeding America and addresses why food insecurity hasn’t change in America the last 50 years even though record amounts of food is being donated and distributed.

What do you think are 3 easy things people can do to prevent food from going to waste?

1. Don’t buy too much food! Plan your meals and try to go to the grocery store every couple of days — but this is a privilege!
2. Learn how to use all parts of a food item e.g. the proverbial carrot top pesto or saving veggie scraps in the freezer for broth – learn how preserve and use all food that comes your way.
3. Compost.

Photo courtesy Denver Food Rescue

How many people work for your non-profit? What’s a day in the life like at DFR?

We have 5 staff members. We all share a one room office in the historic Five Points neighborhood. We’re either working hard on our own individual projects or deep in conversations on food politics, race & class, or what we’re doing in our free time. It’s pretty hard core family vibes around here where we support and lift one and other up.

What are you looking forward to most about the Denver Food Rescue Ride?

The party and awesome vendors – great food and drinks and prizes and community!

What are your goals for the event?

That we continue to lay the foundation for an inclusive event for all levels of cyclists that continues for many years to come and becomes a noteworthy Denver event.

What kind of turnout do you expect?

We hope to double our riders this year to 200!

What’s the biking scene like in Denver?

Well mountain biking and cycling outside of city limits is robust but within city limits I’d say we need safer and more bike lanes and we need to work on relations between riders and cyclists ‘cause tensions can be high!

What is your favorite thing about your job?

That I am working for a nonprofit fighting against the non-profit industrial complex and traditional anti-hunger movements.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Support radical, grassroots, community led organizations in your town! Also bikes rule – especially bikes with illuminated wheels. 🙂

Thank you, Amy and the Denver Food Rescue for your efforts. Keep making the magic happen and have a very mirthful ride!