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A nonprofit is working to stop food waste in Detroit’s metro

WATERFORD, Mich. — As many spent their Sunday shopping, a small group of volunteers stood in a field in Waterford hoping to make a big difference.

“We walked past all these beautiful trees and I said, Oh my God! Look at all the beautiful apple trees and look at all these apples,” said Chad Techner of Metro Food Rescue.

Metro Food Rescue, an Oakland County-based nonprofit, was launched in March 2020. Volunteers from the organization travel around Detroit’s metro to save food from restaurants, pantries and local warehouses that would otherwise be wasted.

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

After contacting Oakland County, the nonprofit spent the day picking apples from a field near the Oakland County Farmer’s Market. They say the apple trees probably haven’t been harvested for several years. They called the event The Great Apple Rescue.

“We basically started Metro Food Rescue knowing that 40% of the food is wasted in this country and at the same time, one in four children doesn’t know where their next meal will come from, nationwide. Here , in Oakland County, it’s one in six children,” Techner said.

The apples picked on Sunday will be transformed into jams and butter by local businesses. Then they will be sold and the proceeds will be donated to local pantries. Some apples will also go to food pantries and be donated directly to Metro Detroit families struggling with food insecurity.

“Even if it’s just apples, these apples will go a long way,” Shane Sperling said 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 dietary restrictions.

“There are a lot of people who need food and things of that nature in a pantry and they just don’t know how to find it and often because we’re kosher it’s a unique food need,” Sperling said.

Halfway through the apple picking event, the volunteers had several bags full of apples and many more to pick up. Metro Food Rescue says they are on track to save nearly two million pounds of food in the Detroit metro 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.

The volunteers say it will probably take them a few days to pick all the usable apples.

To find out how to help a food-insecure family near you, go to