Rescued Food a Recipe for Relief

Carol and Dan Zimnie help to put away donated food in Detroit.
Breakfast is now one less burden for Carol and Dan Zimnie.

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports Carol lost her customer service job back in January. Three months later, Dan lost his auto-machinist job, too.

"You know, we put a lot of trust in God. But then you get scared too. We're human, and that side of us says, 'what are we going to do?,'" Carol said.

How they'll afford groceries is answered with donated food.

"You can tell," Dan said, "we haven't gone hungry."

But the preparation behind Carol and Dan's meals is a lot more involved than one might might think. In fact, it all would've been trash the day before.

That's if not for Forgotten Harvest -- a non-profit group that criss-crosses Detroit in 21 refrigerated trucks on a daily mission to rescue some of the food that'd otherwise be thrown out from grocery stores, restaurants and even stadiums. The organization says the average grocery store can throw away as much as 1,200 pounds of food a day.

Forgotten Harvest Website
Feeding America (America's Second Harvest) Website
Free Rice Web site
City Harvest Web site

"It all is highly perishable," said Forgotten Harvest founder Susan Goodell. "It has to be rescued today - and distributed today." The operation Goodell runs salvaged more than 12 million meals last year.

"The food is perfectly good. It's very nutritious," Goodell said. "But for one reason or another, it's just not sale-able."

From oddly shaped veggies, to meat, or milk at its sell-by date - it's sorted and shipped out to more than 150 Detroit-area pantries and soup kitchens.

The numbers are staggering: more than 96 billion pounds of food go to waste every year in this country. That's more than a quarter of all food available in this country.

If just 10 percent of that wasted food could be recovered it'd feed everyone in New York City three meals a day for an entire year.

On this day, some of what's rescued winds up at Open Door Ministries,where Carol and Dan Zimnie volunteer.

"When you're the one that needs a handout - it's a little harder," Carol said.

The work doesn't pay, but it does put food on the table. Carol said it's very healthy, good food, and "it's a thing that we wouldn't have money to buy!"

From what would've been waste, comes a recipe for relief.