By Caitlin Lietzau
Harvest Moon is a local co-op style grocery store located in Long Lake. Along with providing healthy, local food options to residents in the area, they also have been purposeful about giving back to the community.
The store’s mantra, “We grow, we gather, we give” is not just a concept that the staff and store have adopted, but is something that the grocer is purposeful about actively working toward.
In pursuit of this mantra, Harvest Moon has participated in a practice called food recovery. This method of pursuing food sustainability, also referred to as “food rescue,” is just one of the many ways in which Harvest Moon gives back to their community.
Food recovery is defined as the practice of safely retrieving edible food that would otherwise go to waste, and distributing it to those in need. The recovered food is edible, but would have normally have been tossed because the product is no longer able to be sold through the grocer.
This product is still safe to consume, but are past their “sell by” dates, as well as products that are “imperfect,” such as bruised fruit or day-old bread and pastries. Food recovery not only allows food items that are regularly thrown away to be rescued, but it also gives local organizations the opportunity to offer clients a variety of products that they likely would not have been able to offer if not for these community partnerships.
A few of the organizations that Harvest Moon currently partners with for food recovery include the North County Food Alliance (N.C.F.A.), the Maple Plain Community Church Food Shelf, and Western Communities Action Network’s (WeCAN) Mobile Market.
According to Jim Bjerke, NCFA food share coordinator, his organization picks up “anywhere from 200 to 400 pounds of produce” from Harvest Moon every Wednesday. Part of that goes to a center in North Minneapolis and part of that goes to Keystone Food Shelf in St. Paul. “We pick up food that otherwise would go to waste,” he added.
Margaret Florek, the office manager and food shelf coordinator at the Maple Plain Community Church and Food Shelf, stated, “We pick up once a week from Harvest Moon.”
The food shelf receives dairy products, breads and some snack items, along with some gluten-free items. “We are thankful for this source to help those with special dietary needs,” said Florek.
At WeCAN, food program coordinator Caitlin Lietzau picks up from Harvest Moon once per week as well. “We are beyond grateful for the amount of yogurt, bread, milk, and various other items WeCAN receives that we likely would not have been able to offer clients due to the constraints of a small non-profit’s budget,” she said.
For more information about Harvest Moon’s non-profit community partners, check out their websites at: northcountryfoodalliance.org; www.mpcommunitychurch.org and www.wecan-help.org.
By Caitlin Lietzau