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Arkansas restaurant gives leftover food to community

Arkansas restaurant owners, Alanna and Daniel Owens have come up with a solution to reduce food waste, and give back to their local community.

HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE, Ark. — Forbes Magazine has said that up to 40% of food in the United States goes to waste, which is upwards of 1 billion pounds of food.

That equals to just around $400 billion worth every year.

Alanna Owen and her husband Daniel Owen, owners of Melinda's Café and Coffee in Hot Springs Village wanted to change that. 

During the day, Alanna is busy serving up some of the cafe's signature meals but once the day has ended, she said the leftover food would typically go straight into the trash can.

"We would probably throw away a couple dozen of bread kolaches every couple of days," Alanna said.

Getting rid of leftovers from the restaurant was once an issue, but Alanna and her husband came up with a new way to get rid of them without any food going to waste.

"It was heartbreaking to throw food away because we demand freshness," said Daniel.

It didn't take long for a lightbulb to go off on how the two could reduce how much goes to waste.

"We realized that with the rising food costs, it's hurting us in a restaurant, how much more it's hurting our neighbors," Daniel recalled.

At the end of the shift, they pack up leftovers into a crate and give them to anyone in need who comes by.

"There have been some tear-filled eyes [that] have carried food to their cars," Daniel said.

"One-third of the food that's produced in the world is considered wasted." Slyvia Blain, executive director of Potluck Food Rescue, said 

40% of the food that's lost and thrown out, is normally taken straight to the landfills and Blain said that can create social and climate change and issues.

"8.3 pounds of methane is released into the atmosphere for every 100 pounds of food wasted," Blain said.

Instead of throwing the food out, the organization collects it from businesses and catering events, and redistributes it to hunger relief agencies.

Additionally, Blain mentioned that there are various other ways to get rid of the food.

"You can feed it to animals, you can create energy with compost, it creates heat with thermal files that can be turned into electricity," Blain said.

Both owners of Melinda's Cafe said that by coming up with a solution for the leftovers, it is a small way to be less wasteful and give back to their community.

"There's no reason to ever let a bite of good food, sit on the shelf overnight and get stale is to give it to somebody and let them enjoy," Daniel Owen said.

Potluck Food Rescue is always looking for new clients with extra food on their hands, and if you're interested in donating, please click here. 

If you're interested in fresh homemade food from Melinda’s Cafe or learning more about their food donations, you can send her an email at 1alannakay1@gmail.com.


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