At a time when food insecurity is a significant concern — even here in prosperous St. Johns County — a local, all-volunteer organization is rescuing food that would otherwise have been thrown away and providing it to those in need.
Epic-Cure Inc. was founded in 2018 in response to the staggering amount of food waste in the county. With one in six Americans facing hunger while 30% to 40% of the food supply ends up in landfills, these volunteers felt a call to action.
Since opening the doors to its first warehouse a little over three years ago, the organization has:
Food rescue goes beyond providing good, healthy and nutritious food to families. It is helping to move the needle on a serious environmental problem.
Annually, food waste is the largest component in landfills and accounts for 6% of all greenhouse gas emissions. When food decomposes without the benefit of oxygen, it emits methane gas, which, according to the EPA, is 25 times as potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
The 10 million pounds of food Epic-Cure volunteers have helped divert from landfills has prevented 4,431 tons of methane gas from harming the atmosphere.
In addition, approximately 21% of freshwater resources and 21% of farmland are used each year to produce food that will ultimately be wasted.
Beyond food rescue and distribution, Epic-Cure fosters self-reliance for veterans and students at Title 1 schools though cooking classes. Senior citizens teach children to safely prepare meals, providing them with practical life skills and the self-confidence that comes from real achievement. This connects generations through a shared purpose, improving the wellbeing of both the children and their senior citizen mentors.
Because food waste happens in all phases of production — from distribution to end use — Epic-Cure is adding a pilot composting program to address the problem of — and educate people about — food waste at the home level.
Because it is a 100% volunteer organization, Epic-Cure’s costs are low, and its production is efficient. It has been able to return $29 in value to the communities it serves for every dollar it spends.
Since its inception, the total value of the food volunteers have distributed is more than $17.5 million, but its operating costs over that time are not quite $600,000.
To learn more go to epic-cure.org.