Here I am volunteering with 360 Eats in Clearwater, who use recovered food to make

By: Emily Grant

Back in 2021, before I joined, my supervisor at the time caught the CNN Heroes clip of MEANS Database (now, and nudged me to follow up. I had never heard of food recovery or food rescue, but quickly realized that this was an important puzzle piece in the local food system. As a Food System Specialist with the University of Florida Family Nutrition Program, this seemed like the perfect match between feeding neighbors and strengthening the local food system.

The landscape:

My home, nestled on the Gulf Coast of Florida, is known for its vacation and beach spots, and a great place to retire. While tourism has boomed, and growth has exploded in the last few years, so has the cost of living and food. Having lived in both Bradenton and Sarasota, there are clear pockets of need.

While funding changes were happening with the Family Nutrition Program, I knew that I wanted to continue this work, as my passion for food recovery only became stronger.

Collaborative solutions:

After joining the team in 2022 and partnering with local organizations like Community Harvest SRQ (previously Transition Sarasota), Honeyside Farms and UF Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, recovered more than 39,000 pounds of fresh produce that otherwise would have been composted or thrown away. Even the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, one of our generous grantors, has donated excess catered food after their events.

During the last two years, we participated in Food Waste Prevention Week, a nation-wide focus on reducing food waste, and had an amazing representation in Florida with webinars, community events and more.

It finally feels like food recovery is catching on in Sarasota and Bradenton.

Project highlight:

Back when I was a Food System Specialist, in the height of the pandemic, I joined the Manatee Feeding Workgroup that focused on feeding the community while so many businesses were shut down. Over the years, the workgroup took on a more long-term approach by developing a local farm stand with Honeyside Farms. In Samoset, a neighborhood in Manatee with few grocery store options, the farm stand would offer discounted fresh produce during season, and anything unsold would be donated to the Food Banks of Manatee (Meals on Wheels PLUS). 

I mean who wouldn’t want some of this fresh produce (pictured below)?

Local Produce from Honeyside Farms in Parrish, FL
Local Produce from Honeyside Farms in Parrish, FL

What’s Next?

The beauty of food rescue lies in its inclusivity—everyone can play a part in this transformative journey. Whether as a donor, volunteer, or advocate, each contribution amplifies the impact for folks in Sarasota and Brandeton. From donating excess food to volunteering with us, there are many avenues for engagement, and we invite you to become stewards of change with me.

Drop me a line at or give me a call at 202-449-1507