Food Link's vision is a food system without waste, in which everyone has enough
Food Link provides people in need with nutritious food
Food Link delivers nutritious food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and eggs, to organizations that serve low income people in the Arlington area. Many of the populations that Food Link serves, including low income children, at risk youth, low income families, seniors, and the homeless don’t have access to healthy food on a regular basis. The health benefits of healthy food cannot be overstated. Nutritious food can help combat undernutrition, obesity, and diet related diseases. Four out of the top six causes of death are diet related, including heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. Through Food Link food deliveries, around 5,000 people in need now have regular access to nutritional food for free and can use their resources for other important needs such as health care and child care.
Food Link brings the community together
Food Link has brought together volunteers, programs and clients to improve the community. Over 200 Food Link volunteers work together to rescue food and bring it to social service agencies in the area. Beyond providing good nutrition, these deliveries by Food Link volunteers also remind the clients that they are cared about and supported by their community.
At one housing facilities, a group of residents have organized volunteers to help receive the food from Food Link and created their own mini-food pantry. The residents take ownership of the food distribution and it brings residents together.
Food Link supports community organizations and businesses
Because food is provided at no cost to the organizations, local agencies are able to spend more of their budget providing essential services to the community. The businesses that donate food to Food Link reduce their disposal costs and receive a tax deduction for their food donations.
Food Link also works with three local organizations to provide job training for people with special needs: The Walnut Street Center for adults with developmental disabilities, Young Adult Vocational Program for teens with mental health issues, and the Douglas House for adults with traumatic brain injuries. Clients of these programs participate as Food Link volunteers, helping to collect, sort and distribute food along with other operational tasks. In the process, they learn job skills, including responsibility and teamwork.
Food Link reduces Food Waste
The US wastes about 126 billion pounds of food per day (ReFED). Nationally, about 40% of all food is wasted somewhere along the supply chain. By diverting edible food out of the waste stream, municipal waste is reduced. There are multiple environmental benefits from the program.
First, food contains embedded energy and emissions associated with food cultivation/production (energy, water, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, animal wastes), processing, transport, storage and packaging. Reducing food waste reduces the total amount of food needed and therefore offsets these emissions.
Second, reducing food waste directly reduces the energy use and emissions associated with trash collection (trucks for hauling), landfilling (methane emissions) and incineration (food waste is high in moisture and provides little, if any, net energy in waste-to-energy plants).