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Rachel Beason: Champion of Food Rescue and Nutritious Meal Provision

by: Paisley Gallagher, Food Security Coordinator | Kitsap County WSU Extension
April 22, 2024

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In the heart of Kitsap County, Rachel Beason, Director of Food Services at Kitsap Community Resources (KCR), stands at the forefront of a crucial movement, rescuing food and transforming it into nutritious meals for those in need. Through her tireless dedication and innovative approach, she has redefined the concept of food rescue, making a significant impact on her community. In a recent interview, Rachel shared insights into her motivations, challenges, and aspirations in her role.

Inspiration and Motivation

Rachel’s journey into food rescue began with her work at Kitsap Community Resources, where she actively manages kitchen contracts and daily prepared meals for Meals on Wheels. A pivotal moment arose when she received a grant to prepare farm-to-school snacks for children enrolled in Head Start, which started the collaboration with local food procurement. Collaborating with Diane Fish at the Kitsap Conservation District, Rachel recognized the vast potential in salvaging food that might not be suitable for traditional distribution channels but could still be transformed into nutritious meals. Her upbringing, marked by periods of food insecurity and reliance on food pantries, further fueled her commitment to addressing food access disparities.

Success Stories and Memorable Moments

For Rachel, every instance of grocery rescue is a triumph. Recently, she facilitated a connection between a new grocer with excess waste and Kitsap Harvest, a move that promises to redirect the best of surplus food to those who need it most, while capturing foods that are ideal for processing. Rachel emphasizes the importance of forging partnerships and fostering collaboration to maximize the impact of food rescue efforts.

Data on Food Waste

Rachel’s commitment to food rescue is underscored by alarming statistics on food waste in America. *She points out that 30-50% of supermarket food and 40% of household food in the United States is wasted. This waste occurs due to factors such as “sell-by” dates, imperfections, and wilting. Rachel’s personal experiences, including encountering grocery dumpsters full of fresh produce in the early 2000s, have solidified her resolve to combat this issue.

Identifying and Prioritizing Rescued Food

Rachel prioritizes food that can be salvaged and repurposed into wholesome meals. She focuses on items that require processing, such as slightly bruised produce that can be transformed into salsa or marmalade. By maintaining open communication with food banks, Rachel ensures that rescued food meets the most pressing needs of the community.

“I dream of being an octopus with many hands, but one person can only do so much.”

– Rachel Beason

Additionally, Rachel ensures that their meal offerings are culturally appropriate and appeal to a diversified clientele, producing an impressive 300-400 quarts of meals per week, with the highest recorded batch reaching over 800 quarts, and the smallest batch being 290 quarts. This significant output demonstrates the scale of impact in addressing food insecurity in their community.

Special Ingredients for Meal Preparation

Rachel highlights the suitability of certain ingredients for her meal preparation efforts. Whole fruits and vegetables, including apples, stone fruits are processed into sauce or butter. Potatoes, onions, carrots, are processed into soups. Berries are frozen until there are enough saved up to create jams and jellies. This strategic utilization of ingredients maximizes their nutritional value and minimizes waste.

Challenges and Solutions

Despite her dedication, Rachel faces challenges such as funding constraints, time limitations, and a shortage of labor. However, she remains undeterred, leveraging her resourcefulness and partnerships to overcome these obstacles.

Ensuring Food Safety

Rachel follows stringent protocols to ensure that rescued food is safe for consumption. From initial inspection to thorough cleaning and processing, every step is meticulously executed to uphold the highest standards of food safety.

Redistribution Efforts

Rachel coordinates with food banks using the help of AmeriCorps members to package and deliver rescued food to those in need, ensuring efficient and equitable distribution across the community.

Policy Recommendations and Future Goals

Looking ahead, Rachel advocates for policy changes that would mandate grocery stores to prioritize food aid distribution before discarding imperfect items. Her ultimate goal is to expand and enhance food rescue initiatives, reaching more grocers and communities to minimize food waste and alleviate hunger.

Rachel Beason’s unwavering dedication to food rescue and meal preparation embodies the spirit of compassion and innovation. Through her leadership, she continues to make a profound difference in the lives of individuals and families facing food insecurity, transforming surplus food into nourishment and hope.

*Research data from Feedstuffs, Nov. 16, 2023
Interview with Rachel Beason, Manager of Food Services Kitsap Community Resources, LPA Facilitator, Chef/Instructor