(WKOW) — Hunger is an epidemic. Its effects on humanity are devastating, and the problem can be seen right in our own backyards. But there’s one eastern Wisconsin partnership that is making a big difference. It’s doing it, one ‘fresh rescue’ at a time.
“It really started in a small way where we were donating bakery and produce and it’s just developed since then,” said Ted Balistreri, co-owner of Sendiks in Mequon.
Balistreri touts not only a historic and highly-respected supermarket chain in the Greater Milwaukee area, but also an altruistic mission that’s proving to be as unique as it is impactful.
“Really about 8 or 9 years ago Feeding America implemented a program called Fresh Rescue where they actually come to the store and pickup product. From our family’s perspective one of our goals is to really be embedded in the fabric of our community… If we can help people fight hunger, if we can help them that they get a nutritious meal… that’s really in our core value in terms of being part of the fabric of the community,” said Balistreri.
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, the leading hunger-relief organization in the state, improves access to healthy and nutritious foods for those facing hunger. Sendik’s helps by donating to ensure that food gets to families and individuals. And – it turns out –they are responsible for a significant percentage of the food that Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin distributes.
“Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin has a very healthy relationship with Sendik’s. We’ve been partners through our fresh rescue program since 2006, and since then Sendik’s contributed more than 3.2 million pounds through our specialty fresh rescue program,” said Rayna Andrews, Director of Community Engagement & Member Services in Milwaukee.
Sendik’s focuses on supplying local, trusted, fresh produce and keeping food banks full of wholesome food for those in need. From baked goods to dairy, fruits and vegetables – Sendik’s products are taken off store shelves – and right into Feeding America trucks for delivery. But it’s the quality of Sendik’s donations that sets their Fresh Rescue Program apart from other retailers.
“What’s unique about Sendik’s is that not only do we get those products, but we also get a lot of specialty products that comes directly from the deli or directly from the produce,” said Andrews.
It’s a special partnership that is having a direct impact on the local communities and helping to solve a public health crisis.
“Across our 36 county region we distribute more than 9.7 million pounds a year. Our goal is 15 million pounds and with Sendik’s generosity I know we’ll get there,” said Andrews.