Alexander Rapaport, owner of Masbia Soup Kitchen, is not a fan of “food rescue,” but when a tractor full of $100,000 worth of Welch’s-Manischewitz grape juice pulled up to Masbia’s Queens location, even Rapaport couldn’t deny that this Hanukkah gift was a worthy one. The grape has a sell-by date at the end of January — too soon to be stocked on store shelves — but is in perfect condition.
“Food rescue needs viable economics,” Rapaport said. If someone gives Rapaport a donation of unwanted challah by the end of the week, it’ll be devoured. Give it to him on Sunday and it’ll just sit there.
“The only good way to do food rescue is when a manufacturer has a surplus and he gives it out, pre-expiration date,” said Rapaport. “The idea is often ‘Let’s give the poor all the garbage to eat,’” he said, adding that this went against the biblical concept of giving the first cut, or fatty part, of an animal to the needy. “It’s not dignified to give out something expired.”
Often manufacturers will dump extra, unexpired product in landfills, or they will reserve expired, unsellable products for soup kitchen donations. “Poor people are not garbage cans,” he said.
Shira Feder is a writer. She’s at email@example.com and @shirafeder