Best Market, Inc.
1 Lexington Avenue
Bethpage, NY, 11714
Phone: (516) 570-5300
I work for a supermarket chain in New York that have locations on Long Island, Queens and Manhattan. I cashiered for about five years there, and have recently been moved into the prepared foods section of the store. I help cook hot meals sold buffet-style to customers, a unique commodity that contributes to the company's profit.
Unfortunately, part of my job description involves having to throw out dozens of pounds of good food each night - a variety of meats, vegetables, fish, pasta, and even specialty pizza - that hasn't been touched by customers due to overproduction to keep the buffet looking "full" and attractive. I had never known how much is wasted per day in all of my time with the company. An average night can entail wasted food that fills up two very large garbage bins, and it sickens me to have to do so with all of those who go hungry each night in mind. I become increasingly disgusted with myself, and with the people who demand this of me & my coworkers, with every near-full tray that I need to empty out as my shift comes to an end. I never thought that making eight bucks an hour could make me feel so guilty.
It doesn't take much more than looking around our own neighborhoods to know that there are far too many hungry people, especially children, in New York state alone - yet it's still one of the biggest parts of a nation that is among the wealthiest in the world. Recent tragedies like Hurricane Sandy only reinforce this. The fact that we have access to programs such as City Harvest that try and help solve this problem, along with numerous neighborhood soup kitchens that would be grateful for all of the food that this company wastes without a trace of guilt, is unacceptable.
Best Market shouldn't be looked at as if they are the only company who does this (or fails to do, should I say?). I know this isn't the case, and it is so for multiple reasons. It is said that there's a potential risk of getting hit with lawsuits over food that gets people sick. Not to mention, the concept of showing customers that the company "gives away" food at the end of the day might make people less inclined to actually buy it, thus hurting business. But is hurting business by maybe even fifty dollars a day (generously speaking, although people still primarily purchase from the buffet during lunch hours, which is at least four hours before the station closes for the day. Not to mention, it's a GROCERY STORE, and this station isn't relied on for a significant fraction of their income anyways.) anywhere near as detrimental as having the ability to do good for those in need and opting not to? Also, in 1996, President Clinton signed the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which protects businesses like the one I work for from such liabilities (BOTH Civil and Criminal) involved with donating food to non-profit organizations with good intentions to help those in need, despite whether or not it can cause harm to those who will eat it.
As if this Act isn't enough to motivate the owners of Best Market (and other companies) to stop committing a crime against humanity, I would like to add that myself and a number of my coworkers who I've discussed the matter with would be more than happy to take all measures necessary to ensure that the unsold food is packaged carefully and stored at an appropriate temperature/all other conditions necessary to meet the health standards made by such charities. I read through the criteria needed to meet City Harvest's requirements for properly packaged and prepared food to use as an example because they are probably the most well-known charity associated in this realm in our vicinity. It also will allow me to show how easy it is for workers to meet these guidelines without taking much time away from our other duties to fulfill them.
Prepared foods like the kinds I make and clean up after on a daily basis, simply need to be stored separately and securely in chilled environments (40 degrees F, or frozen at 0 degree F or less). This is a fairly simple task, considering how last time I checked, the store I work in has several freezers. I start throwing out food roughly two hours before my shift ends. In the time it takes me to empty out trays, take out the trash, and scrub down the remnants, I could easily package and simply store them somewhere safe until a non-profit group can come for it. My coworkers, who also feel disgusted over what goes to waste, would without a doubt agree to this.
Best Market is more than a part time job that helps me pay for expenses while I go to school. It's a community. Customers aren't just faces - we know almost all thousands of the faces we see each day. It's a family friendly establishment that my community loves to depend on for their groceries. We see the same families shop here on the weekends, and the same workers who stop in on their breaks and after their long days, and have real personable relationships with them. This establishment owes it to their loyal customers and the communities who also think it's a shame to discard their unsold food. They also owe it to their fellow human beings. I'm creating this petition to implore those in authority at Best Market's headquarters to please put an end to the constant waste and to take a step towards bettering the community and the lives of those less fortunate. If these ideas are implemented by those with the power to do so, we'll see a bettering of the work environment, the overall image of the company and what they stand for, and a bettering of the communities that are home to the loyal customers who are the reason for Best Market's huge success.