- Grade 11
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Sprout-Save-Share is a project that collects unsold and unsellable food from stores, farms, and bakeries to donate to people in need. We are partnered with local bakeries such as Terra Breads that donate end of day bread, which we currently bring to the Vancouver Native Housing Society. Our goal is to minimize waste as the food we collect would otherwise end up in the compost bin, while also helping the community. As of January 28, 2018, we estimate we have donated over 1,500 meals!
A big aspect of Sprout-Save-Share is using systems thinking to create the best change possible. Here is how we have overcome some of our challenges:
Transportation: Is it counterproductive to drive for 3 hours to pick up the bread?
Our project is about sustainability! Is there a better way to pick up and deliver the donations without driving around for 3 hours? Unfortunately, it isn’t too easy to walk carrying giant sacks of bread, get on the bus with giant sacks of bread, or bike carrying giant sacks of bread. We decided to make the bread pickups all in one trip with the shortest possible route, to reduce the trip to 1 hour.
Donations: Is this a short term solution?
When the project was first started, we donated meals directly to people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. However, criticism we received was that we were enabling homeless people to stay homeless by providing a short-term solution to hunger. Though we felt the food would be better eaten than thrown away in any situation, we understood the issue was complex and we may not understand the true effect of our actions. We therefore decided to partner with the First Nations Housing Society, as they could make the best use of our donations.
Making a Difference: Do we really need to do this?
What is the point of this project when local organizations such as ReFood and Food Stash provide this service at a much larger scale? Our project wanted to make the best change possible, so we wondered if our project was a good idea, as we thought we could make a bigger difference volunteering for larger organizations, building upon the success and progress they had already created. However, once we started connecting with bakeries, we realized that since the larger organizations were non-profit and had limited staff and volunteers, the days they didn’t pick up the produce, the food still got thrown away. A project like ours helped further reduce waste, and involved new people to the idea of saving end-of-day food.
Future Goals: We aim to reach 5,000 meals by the end of 2018! We hope to expand to farms and grocery stores to include fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, as this is what is most needed by local homeless shelters. We hope our project inspires other youth to make a difference towards something they are passionate about. Our project started when a 15 year old emailed a bakery, so we hope to spread the message that anyone and everyone can and should pursue issues they care about.