Gleeners harvesting cabbage overlooked by picking machines reduce food waste and illustrate the practical philanthropy practiced by The Daily Table

Some produce at The Daily Table is found by gleeners. These volunteers harvest vegetables missed by machines. It’s practical philanthropy, which reduces food waste. Photo courtesy: DC Central Kitchen | Flickr CC.

Produce, dairy, and prepared food on sale at The Daily Table looks good enough to eat. Shoppers at this Dorchester, MA store—located just outside of Boston—can buy fresh fruits and vegetables every day. No time to cook? Healthy soups, pastas, ready to heat meals are cooked daily in the store kitchen.

Is this a new competitor for Whole Foods and their upscale customers? It could be. The founder of The Daily Table, Doug Rauch, is the former President of Trader Joe’s. His new business is just as concerned about numbers as any other store. However, Rauch isn’t focused on profit. The numbers that concern Rauch are the item’s sell-by dates.

The Daily Table is a not-for-profit grocery store designed to introduce food stability to a traditionally food insecure neighborhood. This business is an example of practical philanthropy. It was created in response to a food crisis. An estimated 49 million Americans don’t have access to a dependable source of affordable healthy food. Rauch’s store offers the working poor a chance to purchase fresh and healthy food at a price they can afford.

Everything in the store is safe to eat. Rauch doesn’t sell foods that have gone beyond their expiration date. Products are sourced from farmers, manufacturers, and supermarkets and purchased at a discount or given as a donation. And that allows Rauch to deliver low prices and keep items affordable. The Daily Table sells one dozen eggs for $1.19, which is priced as high as $2.79 in other area stores.

The store’s kitchen is always busy preparing food. Rauch researched the needs of neighborhood residents while developing the store’s mission. He learned that people in low-income areas don’t always have time to prepare meals everyday. There’s no time for extra work at home if you’re working more than one job. People wanted food that they could eat on the go. Rauch’s philanthropy has a direct impact on shoppers who would normally not have access to healthy food.

The Daily Table consulted nutritionists and chefs in the area to develop healthy standards for sodium, fiber, and sugar used in their “fast food.” Recent studies reveal that 34% of American adults over the age of 20 and 17% of children are obese. Now residents have an alternative to burgers and fries and a partner in their fight against high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

Estimates from the National Resources Defense Council report that 40 percent of the food the United States produces each year goes to waste. That should provide plenty of resources to support Rauch’s plans to expand The Daily table around Boston and into Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.