Cleveland's Hunger Network expands to Lake and Geauga counties to fight food waste, food insecurity

Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers is a nonprofit that provides drug, alcohol, and other counseling. [Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers]
Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers is a nonprofit that provides drug, alcohol, and other counseling services. They'll now receive food from Trader Joe's in Mentor to provide clients with healthy, fresh food. [Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers]
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Cleveland's Hunger Network announced this month they're partnering with Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers to fight food waste and food insecurity for the first time in Lake and Geauga counties. 

The nonprofit currently operates primarily out of Cuyahoga County, with some partnerships in Summit and Lorain counties. 

Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers will receive food weekly from Trader Joe's in Mentor.

"Our clients work with a dietitian who helps them to prepare healthy meals. We are so appreciative of this partnership with the Hunger Network who will be providing weekly healthy, nutritious food to our clients," Melanie Blasko, President and CEO of Lake-Geauga Recovery Centers, said in a statement.

The food from Trader Joe's would be thrown away if it wasn't for the partnership between the grocery store and the recovery center, Hunger Network Program Director Chelsea Csuhran said. 

"Sometimes produce has bruises, it's a weird shape and due to restrictions by the USDA or by the store's protocols, they can't sell it," Csuhran said. "But it's usable. It's still edible."

Sometimes the store prepares more food than they can sell, Csuhran said. 

"Instead of it being thrown away, we're able to redistribute it out into the community," she said. 

The Hunger Network partners with food banks and other organizations in the area to provide food to people who need it. The organization recently expanded its mission to redirect food that could be thrown away to people facing food insecurity, Csuhran said.

That part of the Hunger Network's mission began in the fall of 2018, and since then, they've saved more than 3 million pounds of food from landfills, Csuhran said. 

"A really important piece about food waste that we don't often think about is it's 100%  linked to climate change, and climate change has a number of impacts on our community," she said. "When food ends up in the landfill, when it breaks down, it creates methane, which is a contributing greenhouse gas."

The Hunger Network partners with other grocery stores and restaurants to decrease the amount of food waste and connect the food with those who are food insecure. They are looking for more partners and volunteers. People or organizations can sign up on the website

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