Non-profit works to stop food waste in metro Detroit - one apple at a time

The Great Apple Rescue 3
The Great Apple Rescue 2
The Great Apple Rescue 100922
Posted at 3:05 PM, Oct 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-09 15:26:26-04

WATERFORD, Mich. — While many spent their Sunday running errands, a small group of volunteers were in a field in Waterford hoping to make a big difference.

"We passed all of these beautiful trees and I said, Oh my God! Look at all of the beautiful apple trees and look at all of those apples," said Chad Techner with Metro Food Rescue.

Metro Food Rescue, a non-profit based in Oakland County, launched in March of 2020. Volunteers with the organization travel throughout metro Detroit saving food from restaurants, pantries and local warehouses that would otherwise go to waste.

Once they collect the food, they bring it to food pantries and local missions for those most in need.

After contacting Oakland County, the non-profit spent the day picking apples from a field near the Oakland County Farmers Market. They say the apple trees have likely gone unharvested for several years. They called the event The Great Apple Rescue.

"We basically started Metro Food Rescue with the knowledge that 40% of the food gets wasted in this country and in the same point one in four kids doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from, nationally. Here in Oakland county, it’s one in every six kids," said Techner.

The apples picked Sunday will be made into jams and butters by local businesses. Then they will be sold and the profits will be given back to local food pantries. Some apples will also go to food pantries and given directly to metro Detroit families battling food insecurity.

"Even if it's just apples, these apples are going to go a long way," said Shane Sperling as he pulled apples.

Sperling works with Yad Ezra, a Jewish food pantry in Berkeley.

Sperling says food insecurity can be especially tricky for people with diet restrictions.

"There’s a lot of people who need food and things of that nature from a food pantry and they just don't know how to find it and a lot of times because we are kosher, that is a unique food need," said Sperling.

Halfway through the apple picking event, volunteers had several bags full of apples with many more to collect. Metro Food Rescue says they're on track to save nearly two million pounds of food in the metro Detroit area this year.

"It's relaxing but I also know I'm doing good for the community so it's nice," said volunteer Isabelle Dechen.

Volunteers say it will likely take them a few days to pick all of the usable apples.

For ways that you can help a food insecure family near you, head to