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Produce Waste: Conversations with Community Table And Veggie Van-Our Donated Produce Recipients

Updated: May 21, 2022

Author: Cindee Malito, Food Donation Lead

The Community Table and The Veggie Van will once again be the 2022 recipients of our donated produce. Sandy Martin, Executive Director of “The Community Table” and Shelley Cook, President of “The Veggie Van” share one important philosophy together. They both are passionate about not wasting food, particularly donated produce.

“I do not tolerate waste of any kind,” said Sally Martin. Martin said if surplus is provided, volunteers cut up vegetables and offer them to their clients as they are shopping for their food at The Community Table, located near the Olde Town Arvada area. Shelley Cook feels exactly the same. “We let very, very little, perhaps 2% by weight from our fine local produce goes to waste,” said Cook. She believes there is a great need for our donated produce to end up “in the bellies of residents.”

Both Martin and Cook take the necessary action to avoid having to throw out produce. Yet both Martin and Cook admitted that spoiled or rotten vegetables are impossible to use. Martin said The Community Table takes the necessary steps to avoid waste. One way she says they accomplish this is to offer any produce left over to the many volunteers who work at The Community Table. She insists the volunteers use the fruits and vegetables to feed their own families and also share the remainder with relatives, friends, and neighbors.

Cook said The Veggie Van faces the challenge of uneven and unpredictable supply of produce they receive, which can vary from one week to another. One solution to the challenge, according to Cook, is to display the vegetables they receive in the most attractive manner possible, much like a produce market.

Cook also said they assemble recipe kits to go along with the vegetables featured on the van. Cook cited the example of residents at Elevado Estates, a mobile home community in Arvada that is on her Sunday summer route, who frequently look to the Veggie Van for the ingredients needed for a fresh salsa. When tomatoes and peppers were especially abundant, the Veggie Van pre-assembled 40 salsa recipe kits, using tomatoes, onions, peppers, cilantro, and spices and handed every one of them out to the mobile home community.

In comparison, Martin said that whenever The Community Table has an overabundance of fruits, vegetables, and even canned food, they immediately call a non-profit organization called “We Don’t Waste.” Located in Denver, “We Don’t Waste” teams up with The Community Table and other non-profit food distributors, to address food overages. “We Don’t Waste” motto is “Nutritious Food Should Go To People, Not Landfills.”

According to their website, We Don’t Waste works to reduce hunger and food waste by recovering quality, unused food from the food industry, including The Community Table and other local food banks, and delivers it to nonprofit partners. These partners include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, schools, daycare programs, and other such organizations.

Rose Roots Community Garden is proud to sponsor these two benevolent organizations, and urge gardeners to give generously of their harvest.

2022 Rose Roots Food Donation Process

The Community Table and The Veggie Van will once again this year be the recipients of our donated produce.

  • This year, harvest donations will take place, beginning on July 1st through the end of October. All produce designated for donation may be brought to the barn, located west of the garden.

  • All perishable vegetables, including lettuce, onions, brussel sprouts, squash, beets, etc., may be placed on the shelves of the refrigerator in the barn. These shelves will be marked as either donations to be given to The Community Table or The Veggie Van.

  • All perishable vegetables, including lettuce, onions, Brussel sprouts, squash, beets, etc., may be placed the shelves of the refrigerator located in the barn. These shelves will be marked as either donations to be given to The Community Table or Veggie Van.

  • All vegetables that will hold without refrigeration such as carrots, tomatoes, corn, herbs, etc. may be placed in the plastic bins located on the counter in the barn. Please be sure items are labeled as donations to the Community Table or The Veggie Van.

  • Rose Roots volunteers will deliver every Monday morning at 10 am to The Community Table. Every Thursday morning, a volunteer from The Veggie Van will arrive at 10 am pick up donations in the barn.

  • All weekly donations must be placed in the barn no later than 9 am on Monday and/or Thursday. Donations will be weighed and tracked prior to each delivery.

  • As a Rose Roots Gardener, all you have to do to support these two charitable organizations, is to leave your excess produce in the barn by 9 am on Monday or Thursday and it will be delivered to those in need. Don't let those delicious nutritious veggies go to waste!

2022 Produce Donation Pick Up and Delivery All date and time shifts are available to weigh and document donations then deliver produce to The Community Table every Monday between the hours of 10:00 am to 11:00 p.m. The Community Table is located at 8555 W. 57th Avenue in Arvada. All date and time shifts for the Veggie Van are available to help Veggie Van representative weigh and load produce into her vehicle every Thursday at 10:00 am at the barn. Produce donations for both The Community Table and the Veggie Van are located inside the barn. Donations of produce for both organizations may be found in the refrigerator and in the bins on the workbench. On Mondays, all produce in the refrigerator and bins are for The Community Table (unless otherwise noted). On Thursdays, all produce in the refrigerator and bins are for the Veggie Van (unless otherwise noted). Shift sign-ups are on a first come, first served basis. The sign-up time and date stamp appears in the response table under the green sheets icon in the upper right hand corner of the volunteer page on our website. Please sign up for the shift or shifts you wish to fulfill. Please note that you may count each shift you sign up for and fulfill as one hour towards your required 12 hours of volunteer service to the garden. Thank you in advance for your time and effort as a valuable member of the Produce Donation Team. Should you have questions, please email

Sign Up for a food pick up and delivery shift Here.

Cindee Malito helping Veggie Van distribute Rose Roots produce

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