How Spork Bytes is Addressing Portland's Food Waste Problem

Do you know where your next meal is coming from? Hopefully you do but 1 in 8 Americans struggle to put food on the table and may not - that’s more than 41 million people faced with food insecurity on a regular basis.
US Food Waste Statistics

You may also be surprised to know that up to 40 percent of the food in the United States is never eaten.

This uneaten food has a significant impact as we expend valuable resources growing, processing and transporting it. Not only are we losing natural resources like land and water but we also contribute to climate change through the harmful emissions created by vehicles during all stages of the food lifecycle.

The harmful environmental effects of food waste don’t stop there as it is the number one contributor to overflowing landfills and generates at least 2.6 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Shocking statistics aside, we could see that portions of the food we were delivering were going uneaten and thus contributing to our nationwide food epidemic. This did not sit right with us.

We have an intimate and passionate relationship with food. You’ll routinely find us touting all its benefits from the physical standpoint of providing nutritious and healthy sustenance to the communal aspects of bringing people together and building relationships while enjoying a delicious meal. Food is an ultimate connector.

Happy Spork Bytes customers
Happy Spork Bytes customers

Every Spork Bytes order is carefully compiled based on the size of your party. This is done not only to save you money but also to avoid an excessive amount of uneaten food.

We know our customers are thoughtful members of the community who, like us, hate to see good food go to waste.

“Early on we had a tough time accepting that perfectly good food couldn’t be put to use and shared with others who need it rather than tossed away,” said Tim Taylor, Spork Bytes co-founder. “That’s when we started to look for ways to make good use of the uneaten food and hopefully help the local community in the process.”

Our first step in addressing this issue was to identify local organizations who shared a passion for serving the community. We then reached out to get a better understanding of their needs and how we can help.

We started working with Union Gospel Mission in 2014 and worked closely with them until 2017 when we relocated the Spork Bytes offices. Shortly thereafter we were fortunate to get connected with Cityteam Portland and Urban Gleaners, who we’ve been supporting with food and meals for the past two years.

Throughout these two years, we have helped facilitate the delivery and pick-up of as much food as possible with these two organizations. In fact, in the last 18 months alone we have provided more than 7,500 pounds of quality food to CityTeam Portland and Urban Gleaners who have repackaged and distributed the food to those in need.

This equates to more than 6,000 meals proudly served to members of our Portland community.

CityTeam has been serving people in extreme poverty from communities throughout the country since 1957. With facilities in San Jose, Chester, San Francisco, Oakland, and Portland, each city has customized programs to meet the needs of those in search of hot meals, shelter, life transformation programs, clothing, hygiene items, learning and career help, discovery Bible studies, and more.

"A healthy meal can be the start of a transformation in someone's life."

A healthy meal can be the start of a transformation in someone’s life. CityTeam and its group of local volunteers make sure every person who comes through their doors - more than 500,000 annually - is greeted with a smile, given the respect they deserve and the resources they need. Thanks to the incredible volunteers and local donors, the CityTeam Portland dining hall is able to provide well-rounded meals and nutritious food to feed men, women, the elderly, and families every Monday to Saturday.

“We all know the benefits, both physical and mental, that come from having a hot, nutritious meal,” said Mike Giering, Executive Director at CityTeam Portland. “More than 200 people walk through our doors each day. Many of them are able to take advantage of the wide variety of programs and services we offer but most are here to enjoy a nutritious meal that is served with dignity. Often, that meal is the first step toward hope. We couldn’t offer meals like this without the support of volunteers, the community and gracious donors like Spork Bytes.”

City Team
City Team

In 2006, Urban Gleaners founder Tracy Oseran came to the realization that hunger isn’t only a matter of access, it’s an issue of distribution. Over the last 13 years, Tracy and her family, along with thousands of volunteers and the support of the local community, has built an organization that shares food with 4,500 people each week.

In 2018 alone, Urban Gleaners rescued 1,009,650 pounds of food equating to 841,375 meals!

Urban Gleaners Team
Urban Gleaners Team

“We are steadfast in our mission to source and provide quality food for kids and families in our community who need it most,” said Jessica Newman, Food & Logistics Director at Urban Gleaners. “The Spork Bytes team has been a valuable resource and supporter of our efforts, regularly providing food for us to redistribute to schools, individuals and families throughout the Portland area. We’re fortunate to have them as a partner.”

Our entire Spork Bytes family are active members of the community so it means a lot to everyone - our staff, our restaurant partners, our customers - that we make the best use of excess food and not let it go to waste.

Just as we bring offices and teams together around good food, we extend this principle to those less fortunate in hopes of also allowing them to connect and enjoy a meal with those close to them.

So, while we hope you enjoy and eat all of the food you order, rest assured it will still find a good home if you don’t. Simply ask your Spork Bytes Concierge to add “clean up” to your next order and we’ll take care of the rest.

If you would like to get involved and support CityTeam and/or Urban Gleaners there are a variety of volunteer opportunities available and additional ways to show your support:

CityTeam Portland

Urban Gleaners

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*Food waste statistics provided by the Natural Resources Defense Council and “WASTED: Second Edition of NRDC’s Landmark Food Waste Report

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