A recent Nerdwallet study showed that in 2008, the cost of living surpassed the median household income, and the average cost of living continues to exceed that of average incomes.
Former Trader Joe’s executive Doug Rauch understands this, and what sets him apart is that he’s doing something to help.
A new kind of grocery store
In June of 2015, Rauch started Daily Table, a non-profit grocery store that keeps costs low by collecting and selling food that other stores are planning to toss. The first location was opened in Dorchester, near Boston, Massachusetts, with plans to expand across the country.
According to its website, the store offers ”grab-n-go ready to eat meals, and a selection of produce, bread, dairy and grocery items all at prices that will put a smile on your face, and designed to fit within every budget.’ The grocery has a kitchen on site and prepares many of the grab-and-go items fresh daily.
Rauch says of the new venture, ‘We make a distinction between food waste and wasted food. Food waste should go to the trash. But it’s wasted food that is a vast majority of what’s being tossed. It’s cosmetically blemished in some instances, but it’s still perfectly good to eat.’
It’s a sad fact, but about 31% of food products go uneaten, but 1 in 6 Americans is currently battling hunger. (This data is from the USDA.)
As a non-profit grocery store, Rauch designed the supermarket with a goal of meeting the real needs of hunger in America — to run like a business but to serve the needs of the community.
‘We’re trying to reach a segment of the population that is hard to reach. It’s the working poor who are out buying food, but who can’t afford the food they should be eating,’ he says. ‘We’ll be doing all of this by recovering food from supermarkets, growers and food distributors that would otherwise have been wasted. Hunger & wasted food are two problems that can have one solution.’
On the controversial idea of using semi-expired food, he says, ‘I’m a fan of America taking a second look at expiration dates. We as a society need to wise up about what these codes really are. We are throwing out billions of pounds of food every year due to these ‘best by’ and ‘sell by’ codes that are completely unrelated to food safety.’
Read more: Clark Howard’s food expiration guide
Healthy fast food
In addition to the goal of aiding hunger and avoiding waste, Rauch has another goal: to ‘provide healthy meals that are no more expensive than what people are already buying.’ He says of the in-house meal creations, ‘Our healthy meal options will be priced to compete with the fast-food alternatives in the neighbourhood.’
Half of the store’s inventory is produce and packaged good, and the other half is ready-to-serve meal items.
The next cities? In an interview with Boston Globe, Rauch says he is thinking of opening stores more stores in Boston area and add other cities like Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.