FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM)-- Every week, Tri Cycle Farms picks up food from Whole Foods to deliver to those who need it around the Fayetteville area.
Executive Director and Founder of Tri Cycle Farms Don Bennett said over the past three months, they have helped over 6,000 people with this program.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about three people with Tri Cycle Farms meet at the grocery store to pick up what the employees have set aside for them.
Bennett said some of this food may be thrown away because of the sell by or expiration dates on the packaging.
"A large portion of our food waste happens in the home it’s because we look at those dates and we think that they’re cast in stone," said Bennett. "So we cast them in the trashcan but the reality is this is still really good food.”
Once the food is loaded into the vehicles, it is taken back to the farm for sorting.
During this part of the process, various groups who are partnered with Tri Cycle Farms can pick out what they want to take for their groups.
One of those groups is Seeds that Feed.
Alyssa Snyder, the co-founder of the organization, said to many of the people they deliver to this food is a luxury.
Recently, she and her organization have focused on delivering this food to the elderly.
Snyder recalled one woman who came back three times to load up her walker with food.
“She gave me a hug and when she was giving me a hug she said I love you," said Snyder. "She said you may think that’s weird but I can say that because I do.”
Snyder said many of the people she delivered to told her they had not had garden grown vegetables like what they were delivering in years.
Another person who takes part in the program is Jenni Vaughan, a Food Corp. educator with ALLPS in Fayetteville.
Vaughn said she got involved when a group of students learned about food waste.
She explained many of them work in food service and saw perfectly good food being thrown away.
Even though they may have been hungry themselves, Vaughn said they were not allowed to take it.
Now every Wednesday, Vaughn gets first pick of the food Tri Cycle Farms receives from Whole Foods.
She uses that food to feed students or teach them how to cook.
“They come by my room, now they know me as the Food Lady," said Vaughn. "They stop by, they’re like I’m hungry do you have a snack for me? Now because of this I’m able to provide just something throughout the day to get them to lunch or to get them through their third block or fourth block so they can engage and learn.”
Bennett said many times they deliver food, they see nothing but smiles from people.
The program is more than just delivering food, Bennett explains it is about teaching others the benefits of the Emerson Act.
"We want to teach other organizations because this kind of a neighborhood endeavor and we want to teach other organizations in other parts of different neighborhoods how they can do this too with other grocery stores,” Bennett said.
As Tri Cycle Farms moves forward into 2017 with their food recovery program, Bennett wants to obtain sponsors so they can purchase items to help them safely transport and sort the food.
One item he hopes to get this year includes a refrigeration vehicle to help during the summer.
With three people working two hours a day for three days a week, Bennett said they will max out at anywhere from 50 to 70 tons of food a year.
He hopes by teaching others, this idea will grow keeping more food out of landfills and in hungry mouths.