Walking the aisles of Grocery Outlet, you’ll notice lots of great deals on niche items you didn’t know you wanted. But besides being a mecca for discount shopping, Grocery Outlet is also a champion for another cause: fighting hunger and reducing food waste.

11.2 billion pounds of food is landfilled in California each year while almost one in four Californians don’t have enough to eat. Since Grocery Outlet opened in Truckee, the family-owned and operated business has gone above and beyond to prevent food waste and feed the Truckee community. Upon opening their doors in July, they reached out to Sierra Community House to set up a food donation partnership. When food items pass their “sell by” dates but remain edible, Grocery Outlet delivers them to Sierra Community House for their weekly food distribution program. The packaged and frozen food that can no longer be sold in store is still safe to eat, and the Grocery Outlet owners don’t want to see it go to waste, especially during the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19.

During the holidays when Sierra Community House reached their donation capacity, Grocery Outlet dedicated themselves to finding an alternative outlet for their edible food. They reached out to local churches and North Tahoe-Truckee Homeless Services to see if they could help distribute. Food was delivered to the local warming shelter, and Sierra Bible Church and Truckee Lutheran Presbyterian Church were able to reach out to their congregation on Facebook to distribute food to those in need. These organizations are now on Grocery Outlet’s donation list, and the store often reaches out when they have extra food items available.

Food recovery, or rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste and redistributing it to people in need, is the best use for otherwise wasted food. Food recovery is an integral part of fighting hunger and climate change. If not suitable for human consumption, the next best alternative for wasted food is to utilize it for compost or animal feed. Grocery Outlet donates everything still edible from dry food to frozen items, meat and dairy. Produce that is past its prime and no longer fit for human consumption is donated to a pig farmer in Floriston. Starting in 2022, California’s Senate Bill 1383 will require all large food generators to donate all edible food to food recovery organizations.

In addition to their outstanding food recovery, each Grocery Outlet store runs a food drive each July, called Independence from Hunger. Each store picks a beneficiary for food and monetary donations. The store compiles grocery bags of food, sells them for $5, and donates them on behalf of the customer to Sierra Community House, Truckee’s beneficiary this past July. They also offer a “round-up” all month, where shoppers can round-up their total and donate the difference to the recipient food donation organization.

Food donation is the norm for Ryan and Shannon Parrish, the independent owner-operators of the Truckee store. When they ran Grocery Outlet chains in San Diego and San Luis Obispo, this is what they did. “We hate throwing food away when people are hungry,” said Michelle Johnson, who has spearheaded the food donation efforts. They are dedicated to giving back to their community, wherever it may be.

The model of Grocery Outlet stores also  promotes food rescue by selling food other stores do not. Grocery Outlet sells items that would otherwise have been disposed of due to overstocking, order cancellations, or packaging mistakes. All the food is safe and edible, but is rejected by other stores because of nearing expiration dates or aesthetic concerns. Because of this, the store is able to sell items for 40-70% less than conventional grocery stores.

Sierra Community House recently reported their Hunger Relief services increased by 216% since the onset of the pandemic. They have gone from serving 180 families per week to over 550 families. If you or someone you know is in need, please reach out to Sierra Community House for assistance. They offer weekly drive-through food distributions every Thursday from 4:00 – 5:00 pm at their Truckee location and 2:30 – 3:30 pm in Incline Village.

If you are able to help, consider donating or volunteering with Sierra Community House. The organization is currently asking for specific donations of pasta, beans, and rice. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Sierra Community House first to schedule a time to drop-off your food at the warehouse. Call or email at: (775) 545-4083 or food@sierracommunityhouse.org. View their food donation guidelines here.

Grocery Outlet is open 7:00 am – 10:00 pm, and is located at 11213 Donner Pass Rd. Follow their Facebook for the latest news and deals.