The excerpt below is an abbreviated version of a story published in the July issue of Wilson Estates Living, an N2 publication serving the Wilson Estates community in Wichita, Kansas. While this story, written by The Mill editor Elora Forshee, was originally written and published for the residents of Wilson Estates, it’s too good not to share. Enjoy!
ICT Food Rescue began when founder Stephanie Merritt returned to college at the age of 46. The courses that she took to obtain her degree at Wichita State University in conjunction with a job where food surplus was thrown out every day inspired her to find a way to make a change. Merritt started small, rescuing food surplus whatever and whenever she could. She found that if she were to form a nonprofit organization the sky would be the limit. In February 2016, ICT Food Rescue (formerly known as Wichita Area Coalition for Kindness) came to life. Soon after Merritt began inviting friends to ride along on food rescues and even riding along on some rescues herself in bigger cities on the coasts. Now ICT Food Rescue is what it is today because of those that are passionate about feeding people and not landfills. To accomplish this, they have a group of dedicated volunteers who “rescue” surplus food from local restaurants and grocery stores. That food is delivered to local organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters or Wichita Family Crisis Center, who then use that food to feed their clients.
Like so many organizations that serve our community, during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic they’ve found their work to be even more important to the organizations and families who receive their support. As you most likely know firsthand, the stay-at-home orders put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus created some unique challenges for families, especially those who are food insecure in the best of times. Some families experienced layoffs, furloughs, or decreased incomes. Children were out of school, missing out on the meals provided while there. All of these factors combined to create a need that ICT Food Rescue was determined to continue to serve.
To accomplish this goal, ICT Food Rescue depends on the help of dedicated volunteers – and the dedication of volunteers would be tested during these pandemic times. Thankfully, people were ready to answer the call, like our Wilson Estates neighbor and enthusiastic ICT Rescue volunteer Jim Hall. Jim began volunteering with the group in November of 2019 and has enjoyed every moment he’s spent serving the community in this way. “I find this a fulfilling, and very easy, way to give back to the community!” Jim exclaims.
Jim stumbled upon ICT Rescue when organizing a fundraiser for another non-profit he’s involved with. They were hosting a dinner and Jim knew through past experience that there would be leftover food at the end of the evening, and he hated to see it go to waste. Looking for somewhere to donate the food, he found ICT Rescue. “In order to deliver the donated food, I needed to register as a Food Rescuer. Once registered, I was in and I was hooked!” Jim explains.
Jim typically completes three or four rescues a week, which takes no more than an hour per rescue, depending on where the food is picked up from and delivered to. This ease and flexibility in time are one of the great benefits of volunteering with the organization. As Jim says, “It’s so easy to participate! The rescues are organized online, each with very clear instructions of when and where to pick up the food. You just register for the rescues you can do, pick up the food, and drop it off at the designated location. It’s very easy!”
Beyond the ease of participation, another benefit for volunteers is the gratitude of those on the receiving end of the delivery. Jim shares, “Every organization that I deliver food to is always so grateful.”
If you would like to find out more about what ICT Food Rescue is up to, you can check them out on their Facebook page. If you’d like to help out, either by joining Jim as a volunteer or through a donation, you can find out how to do that on their website, www.ictfoodrescue.com.
Thank you, Jim Hall, for sharing your time to serve our community!
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