M.A. Center New England

Bread Seva

Bread Distribution

For many years, we have been going to my local Whole Foods every Sunday morning to pick up 5-6 shopping carts brimming with good-quality/mostly organic loaves of bread, biscuits, baguettes muffins, bagels and pastries that would otherwise be thrown away. I drive the goods over to a local shelter, where they are distributed to women and their families.

Whole Foods, along with other stores/bakeries/etc., throw away mostly organic, day-old bread that hasn’t been purchased the day before. Unless this bread – which amounts to large quantities daily – is picked up by either an individual or organization, it goes into the trash.

There is so much hunger here in this country—far more than many would suspect. Many people go to bed hungry. Here is a situation where high quality food resources are being wasted on a daily basis. We can change this. For those of you who are blessed to own a car and can spare about 1 hour a week, here’s how you can help to be a part of the solution:
Steps for Establishing Bread Delivery

In Massachusetts, there are several Whole Foods Markets. Each store discards organic leftover bread (still fresh) daily—it either gets picked up for donation or thrown out. On average, some stores will discard 1-2 full shopping carts of bread each day. The store I go to averages 5-8 FULL shopping carts every Sunday morning. If no one comes to pick this bread up, the food gets tossed. Normally, churches, etc. are scheduled for bread pick-up at these stores. But in Massachusetts, as well as other states, there are many Whole Food Markets that have at least one day each week that’s unaccounted for: no one comes and the bread gets thrown away. I’ve found that many stores toss bread on Sundays.

Step 1. Contact any Whole Foods Market near you (or any store that provides baked goods). I suggest going to the store in person and speaking to the manager of the Baked Goods Department. Tell them you’re interested in delivering bread to shelters / food pantries and are wondering if there are any days when the discarded bread / pastries / etc (from the day before) is NOT being picked up.
Find out which day of the week is unaccounted for (usually at least one) and how much bread is generally tossed at a time. Let them know you’re in the process of putting the effort together and that you’ll call them soon once all details are in place (make sure to get their name and number!). I’ve found that most folks over at Whole Foods are really good people – they’re genuinely grateful to help feed our homeless brothers and sisters!

Step 2. Research and locate shelters / food pantries in the your area that could benefit from a weekly bread delivery. This is simply a matter of googling and making a couple of phone calls. It is helpful / efficient to contact managers and especially kitchen managers (if it is a shelter with a kitchen), find out what their needs are, let them know (generally) how much bread you can deliver, from where and on what day.

Once you have a store with bread and a place to take it to, then it is simply a matter of coordinating schedules with the managers in both locations.
For example, I arranged with my Whole Foods contact that I pick up the bread by 9 am every Sunday. I arranged with kitchen manager at the shelter that I deliver the bread by 10am the same day.

I’ve been doing this for over a decade now—over 3,640 shopping carts of bread delivered thus far! These Sunday morning bread runs are often my favorite time of the week. HAVE FUN WITH THIS! And ENJOY the wonderful people you’ll meet in the process!!! Feel free to contact me with any questions: Adarsha, ruthmx@gmail.com.

It takes very little effort to set this up, and I’ve found that wonderful relationships develop as a result. The process is uplifting for everyone involved—at both the stores as well as shelters. The seva gives everyone the experience of working together towards a Higher Good.