MINNEAPOLIS — Loaves and Fishes, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that serves meals in seven Minnesota counties, has established a program collecting ready-to-eat food donations from restaurant operators at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“This new partnership will help Loaves and Fishes continue down its path of strong growth,” said Cathy Maes, Loaves and Fishes executive director. “Having access to high quality, donated food, like that which the airport can provide, allows us to not only expand our services, but gives our guests access to food they otherwise wouldn’t experience.”

The airport food donation program is a part of Loaves and Fishes’ Zero Percent Food Recovery program aimed to reduce food waste. Three times a week, a Loaves and Fishes staff member will arrive at the airport's loading docks in a full-size cargo van to pick up the ready-to-eat food. The items will then be taken back to Loaves and Fishes’ warehouse where they will be distributed among their meal sites.

HMSHost, which operates 30 restaurants at the airport, conceived the idea as a part of its Start Somewhere sustainability program.

“HMSHost is very excited to establish this food donation program with Loaves and Fishes,” said HMSHost Senior Director of Operations at the airport Butch Howard. “We serve a lot of travelers in the airport, and it is an honor to also help serve the local community through these efforts.”

Loaves and Fishes say they will eventually receive leftover prepared food from other airport restaurants.

Lara is a regional reporter for Southwest News Media.

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