Jackson woman rescues food from waste

POSTED: 10:20 PM MDT Oct 16, 2013    UPDATED: 04:55 PM MDT Oct 17, 2013 

A Jackson woman moved to the area simply to relax and be a ski bum after graduating college, but she's acquired a much bigger role in her new community.

Ali Dunford began Dumpster diving when she realized perfectly good food was being thrown out from bakeries and grocery stores. Ali doesn't quite dive anymore. Instead she collects donations for a nonprofit organization she founded, Hole Food Rescue.

Dunford collects most donations on her bike, but some donations are as large as 400 pounds and require vehicles. Wednesday afternoon, she peddled her way to rescue food from Jackson Whole Grocer, one of two grocery stores that donate.

The food is close to the expiration date and has a few nicks. Jake Woerner works at Jackson Hole Grocer and knows how hard it can be to watch good food thrown out.

"It's all still edible, so it's just really great that she saw that and took the opportunity to help everyone out," said Woerner.

The food collected goes to several shelters and food banks. The organization now has 20 volunteers, and is partnered with the Jackson Hole Cupboard.

Wednesday's donations were brought to the Senior Center of Jackson Hole. Dunford said the seniors have come to rely on fruits, vegetables and breads that were rescued.

Becky Zaist, the director of the senior center, was thrilled when Dunford asked to help.

"Next thing I knew she was calling me, saying, 'I've got a load of rescued food. Can I bring it?'" said Zaist.

Dunford brought it, all right. Since June, the Hole Food Rescue has prevented more than 25,000 pounds of food from being wasted. Even the food rescued that isn't edible is collected and brought to farmers every Saturday to be used for compost.