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Picking up and freely distributing recovered surplus food and other essentials to needy individuals and organizations.
In 1996, while working for one of the largest supermarkets in the nation, I noticed the staggering amount of food that was being thrown away. I asked for the food so that I could deliver it without charge to poor, disadvantaged individuals, and affirmed that it would never be resold for profit (most food banks and organizations resell surplus goods, charge membership fees, and have huge budgets, operating costs and staffs). After making sure the food was available for pickup that one Friday night, I gradually increased the number of days I would recover and distribute the food. Over the course of many years, and spending my own time and money, I got hundreds of volunteers to pick up and freely deliver on my behalf, over $2.5 million of food. It was initially with volunteer's help, that Recovery Relief began picking up bakery, produce, grocery and many other household items, and deliver it freely to the poor in Washington, D.C., as well as to shelters, ministries, and other organizations that serve them. It was an awesome task to make it possible for nothing to be thrown out any day of the week and freely giving it to those who had no food (or very little). It initially took over a year for the food to be consistently recovered from just the first store alone, and ultimately enough food was recovered from various places to freely feed approximately 4000 people per week. In time it became clear that only specific 'pockets' of communities of truly disadvantaged people and/or their organizations existed and were in need due to lack. They themselves were rarely in a position to recover it, and there was too much food for such a small community in need to consume all by themselves. They could not handle the tremendous amount of effort required to distribute to others like them, and those who were in a position to, ultimately consumed it themselves. It became impossible for me, as one individual, to direct, manage and support the recovery relief effort any longer. Due to the voluntary nature of the drivers with their own vehicles, the motivation for volunteering appeared to be due to wanting the food themselves, and desiring to travel to places that didn't have it (which were specific places in out-of-the-way and sometimes dangerous and remote communities), was not palatable to them. The food that was initially delivered to a friend's house with the effort and intention of first, never having it thrown away, and second, having it only go to those with no food or very little food, was, over many years, picked up and distributed to over thousands and thousands of individuals and organizations by many who didn't need it. It was consumed because it was free and, in essence, it was taken away from those that really did need it because they didn't have it. Shelters were throwing the food away (they already have it and a budget to get it). Stores refused to give it away (which is legal even if it is nonperishable or could be immediately put into refrigeration and transported), and most organizations and individuals weren't concerned about it or noticed it. One of the biggest challenges was to get dependable and reliable transportation and manpower resources (using voluntary selfless individuals as well as paid individuals), as well as public support and awareness. In November 2001, the law firm of Arnold & Porter established Recovery Relief, Inc. as a public non-stock, non-profit, 501(C) 3 organization to carry on the charitable activities mentioned above. Recovery Relief aims to have the capacity, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to reliably and dependably offer free items of sustenance to the most impoverished people and disadvantaged organizations. Many surplus providers are available and more need to become available. Many of them need to be stopped from wasting the abundant food supply simply because it doesn't generate a profit. Emergency fire, police and rescue agencies, federal, state and local governments, profit and non-profit organizations are required to work together and be an integral part of this relief process so future generations of impoverished children and families in disastrous situations are cared for in all the years to come. Recovered items are needed most by so many who are barely making ends meet, as well as those who have no way of making ends meet. Since 911, organizations have an even greater need for the 'basics' (free food, clothing, and shelter items). Before 911, most did not have enough to sustain them to begin with. A relief from disaster and poverty through a recovery effort that has the capacity at any time of the day, to transport items of sustenance to a disadvantaged community in any location, is urgently needed in this nation (as well as all over the world). The operation has to have the capabilities necessary to offer pick up and delivery of perishable and nonperishable surplus foods, and clothing, household goods, towels (or whatever else is needed), to anyone who does not have it and has no means of getting it. The process is a valuable source of expanded outreach service fostering community growth and sustainability, and if done correctly, it will provide a tremendous free public service not currently available. As long there are children going hungry every day in this nation, no surplus goods should be thrown away. The day may yet come, when toleration of waste will no longer be an acceptable practice. The effort supportive organizations, individuals and governments put forward in making Recovery Relief a reality, will be an invaluable and priceless outreach program that not only supports those in greatest need in the Washington Metropolitan area, but ALL areas and communities far-and-wide. Please take advantage of the opportunity to provide items of sustenance freely to anyone who has nothing. Support allows disadvantaged organizations and individuals the ability to maintain dignity and respect, and it assures all human beings a sustainable future on this planet and the sustainability of this planet. Freely giving without getting can be a reality if it is not selfishly (and money) motivated as it has been in the past. It is urgently needed now more than ever, and anything you can do will be very much appreciated. Thank you. Sincerely, D. Ulrich CEO and Founder
- Debra Ulrich
- (703) 863-9002
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