Woman finds fresh food from dumpsters to give back to her community

Food that Deborah Willis salvaged from a dumpster is set as a recent food giveaway. (Erina Anwar/WUFT News)

Deborah Willis had no idea there was a treasure trove of fresh produce in the bins behind the grocery store.

When Willis, 65, first went into a dumpster, it was out of curiosity. She soon realized that most grocers and general stores were throwing out tons of fresh, unexpired food. Willis decided to take her problem into her own hands, as she thought it would be a waste to have all her food sent to the landfill.

In September she started dumpster diving.

Willis said he scanned large quantities of food to give to families in need in the community.

And every time she sees a big blue trash bin behind a grocery store, convenience store, or general store, she timed it so that the store employee could pick out the best one right after throwing out the “garbage.” Matched.

“When I find food, I look for dates first,” Willis said. “Like milk, I only drink it if it feels good and has dates in it.

She brings tools such as stepladders and grabbers to help her while diving. She usually goes diving a few hours after the store closes, so the salvaged food won’t be out for long.

Willis said he would pack as much food as he could fit in his car and take it home. She then hoses it down and sanitizes it. Only then will she distribute the food to people in the community.

Inside the trash can when Deborah Willis starts the trash dive. (Photo credit: Deborah Willis)

Willis started a Facebook group called Small Town Blessings after diving from a dumpster. So she can reach out to a wider audience to offer what she finds.

She hopes to expand her mission by acquiring warehouses with freezers for longer-term storage of recovered food.

“You can’t chill things like meat and produce,” she said. “I really want to get a warehouse. I wanted to do it with the donations we could get.”

Ms. Willis began holding food gift-giving events to invite families in need of food to her home and choose foods they could eat. Attract 30 people from Most of them are families who are in immediate need of food and have little or no means to obtain it.

Freebies include frozen lunch meats, whole frozen chicken, sealed potato chip or candy sachets, produce, and boxes of canned or bottled food discarded due to packaging issues. Nothing she gives has been opened or kept past its expiration date.

Newbury resident Mattysha Darling, 41, came to one of Willis’ recent giveaways to get food for her family, including her 11-year-old son.

From left, Amanda Friedman, Tanisha Darling, and Matthisha Darling help with food from a Deborah Willis giveaway. (Erina Anwar/WUFT News)

“I don’t have any right now, so that helps. So if you use it right, it should get you through at least a week.”

Darling has entered supplemental nutritional support programs and Receive monthly electronic benefits to help with food expenses.But Money is usually not enough to support her family.

“I make about $300 a month for three people, but I usually have to put money on the bill to get extra food,” she said. “So what Deborah is doing here is really helpful.”

Tanesha Darling, 47, from Newbury, also entered the giveaway after reading an article on Facebook.

“Freebies like this are very helpful because once you run out of perks, you have to get out of your pocket to spend the money. A lot of the time, you might not have it,” Darling says. said.

Darling said he would use the food for himself and his daughter. He also feels secure that he has a place to go when he needs food.

Trenton resident Amanda Boissonault also benefited from Willis’ freebie. She said the Florida Department of Children and Families denied her family food stamps this summer, making it difficult for her to cover her daily expenses.

“It was nothing but a massive struggle. DCF refused food stamps because they didn’t care about the expense and worked a few extra hours to fix the car over the summer,” she said. “We barely make it through. Without someone like Deborah, we wouldn’t have made it.”

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