South Bend’s Cultivate steps up to handle a boom in food donations during pandemic

When its main suppliers suddenly shut down for the COVID-19 pandemic in early March, Cultivate Food Rescue founder Jim Conklin grew worried.Some of the organizations that had given his nonprofit the most unserved food to repurpose for the needy, including Notre Dame, Four Winds Field, caterers, schools and restaurants, would now stop operating for an unknown period of time.“We thought, oh no, where’s our food going to come from?” Conklin said.But he quickly learned Cultivate’s suppliers, including some who typically didn’t have much extra to donate, needed to empty their refrigerators and freezers and didn’t want to throw their contents in the trash.Cultivate went from rescuing about 30,000 pounds of food monthly to 100,000 pounds.

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