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Charlotte organization on pace to save more than 150,000 pounds of food from landfills this year

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Every week, grocery stores across the country throw out thousands of pounds of food. The food is often fine to eat, but it’s past the “sell-by date”. An organization in Charlotte called The Bulb is “rescuing” the food that grocery stores throw out.

On any given week you will find dozens of boxes of food donations from Trader Joe’s. Before coming to The Bulb, the food was on its way to a landfill.

“In the grocery store world if one apple is bad, one strawberry in the box is bad, the whole thing has to be tossed. It can’t be sold,” said Communications Director for The Bulb, Lisa Matthews.

When you take the bad fruit out, the rest are good to eat. Several times a week the donations from Trader Joe’s are weighed, collected and sorted.

“Every time we get volunteers they ask, hey does this look good? I’m like if we are able to eat it, it’s automatically good,” said Operations Manager, Bulce Jarquin.

The good food is rescued and shipped off to 11 mobile food markets in the community and given to those in need for free. The bad food is also saved.

The Bulb recently moved to the Charlotte Innovation Barn, taking advantage of an old and outdated shower room. The room is now full of hundreds of soldier flies. The flies break down the food, helping it become compost. Even the energy coming from breaking down the food is recycled.

“They create a lot of CO2. The CO2 is pumped out through a tube and then pumped into an aquaponics garden, because plants need food for photosynthesis,” said the Executive Director of Envision Charlotte, Amy Aussieker.

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At full operation, the fly room can break down 5,000 pounds of organics a week. Nothing at The Bulb’s warehouse ever goes to waste.

“We get our hands on everything. So it really feels like you are connected to this process in giving back in a big way,” said Food Rescue Coordinator, Cailin Jalynski.

So far this year The Bulb has saved more than 144,000 pounds of food from going to landfills. Organizers say more than 47,000 people have received assistance at the mobile food markets this year.

To find out how you can help The Bulb through volunteer work or donations, click here.



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