Former president of Trader Joe’s Doug Rauch has come up with a solution to the massive quantities of food that his and other supermarkets throw out daily due to “sell-by” date regulations, reported WCVB News on Tuesday.
His goal? Sell this purportedly outdated food to lower-income families. Each day, supermarkets throw out about $2300 worth of food because it is near or at its sell-by date, according to WCVB. But Rauch says that most of this food is still safe to eat, and his solution would address the problem of excessive waste in supermarkets while offering healthy and affordable meals to families who might otherwise turn to fast food. It would also put grocery stores’ spending to good use (in that they’ll actually be distributing all that they buy) while also generating a bit of extra revenue.
Rauch came up with the idea while researching as a fellow at Harvard University, according to WCVB. He is negotiating opening a 10,000-square-foot store in Dorchester as the first location of what he is calling the Urban Food Initiative. The healthy food sold will cost the same as a fast food meal.
This is an excellent idea for a number of reasons. As mentioned, the Urban Food Initiative also puts to good use food that shouldn’t otherwise be wasted. And in doing so, it provides some families with healthy options that fit their budget, which will also address health and obesity.
Yes, Rauch will have to overcome a number of critics claiming that selling “expired” food to people is degrading — why is what’s not good enough for the rich good enough for the poor? Though we should remember that a number of food companies, such as Panera, already give their day-old goods to charities. Rauch’s plan is a similar undertaking. Ultimately, a sell-by date doesn’t mean a food item is expired, and as the former president of our favorite grocery store, Rauch is well-schooled in food expiration regulations and food safety. He will not sell unsafe food to people. So anyone wanting discounts should be able to take advantage of Rauch’s Initiative. (And as students, we want in!)