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What is Full Bellies?
Full Bellies is a massive food sharing program run by volunteers. Produce is picked up in wholesale quantities and then set out for you to choose your own portion. Its revolutionary yet timeless. Unlike a subscription box, you get to choose exactly what you would like to have.
Is Full Bellies Local?
Full Bellies' priority is, first, the local people; those in need, those with little transportation, those with 1 pay day, those who are suffering. Second, is supporting local business; buying local food, supporting local artisans in and out of the store, supporting local projects, ideas, and requests. In order to keep in line with these values, most of our produce comes from all around the world.
Is Full Bellies a not-for-profit?
Nope. We believe in making quick decisions as needs arise without having to fight red tape. Full Bellies strives to pour all profit after expenses back into the community whether that be handing cash over to a child starting a business, a single mom fighting to pay her bills, an elderly couple needing snow removal service. If we have the spare cash, we give it away without waiting till the next board meeting. As a corporation, Amy's family and other volunteers are protected personally. those helping to run Full Bellies are pleased with the setup.
Am I saving more money than shopping at the grocery store?
A box of produce, generally speaking, is about $1/lb. A large box will feed a family of 5-7 for a week no problem, with plenty of fresh fruit for snacking on, and will cost only $40. Those who ask for "The Full Bellies Discount" will receive a discount no questions asked.
The more variety you choose the more $$$ your box will be worth. ie. If you like very standard items like potatoes, onions, tomatoes, bananas, and apples, you will find you save a little bit of money compared to grocery stores, but if you are adventurous and choose all sorts of varieties like Hami melon, artichoke, avocado, yucca, red peppers, cotton candy grapes you will save about half the money it would have cost in store.
How is Full Bellies sustainable?
Full Bellies is ONLY sustainable because of the people. if we only served those in need we would not be sustainable. And likewise, if we only served those with plenty, Full Bellies would be obsolete and would never have been formed.
We have many customers who, when the needs arise, jump to make donations. We do not want to tap out these folks too much so Full Bellies does a few fundraisers a year including Krispy Kreme, Pay-What- You-Want days, and non-produce sales in the store are marked up to a small profit. We also purchase a lot of #2 product which means a) it's ugly so grocery stores reject it (ie carrots that are too large) b) Produce is somewhat dirty from the field and needs an extra wash c) is already ripe d) The wholesaler has too much of something in the #1 section that the overflow makes it to the discount side. e) If we buy by the pallet there is a significant price difference. For example, often 45 boxes of broccoli is the same price as 20 boxes. because we cleared it all. f) Amy's got the connections and people believe in the mission.
There must be a lot of waste?
No actually, we throw very little food away. Here is the order of rescue when it comes to food waste
Step 1. Buy "turning" food. We buy and encourage people to buy items that just need a little spot cut out. We help eliminate waste all the way from the top of the chain.
Step 2. We process "turning" food in our certified space and create ready-to-cook dishes for people to buy.
Step 3. We give boxes of rescue food to volunteers when we run out of time to process and they make it into edible food for our hard-working volunteers at the store. This rescue food is not sold.
Step 4. It is inevitable that, even despite all of these steps, there is still waste. So we place waste food in bins and Farmers come and pick up several days a week for their animals. Animals LOVE Full Bellies
Step 5. Only very rotten food and onions go into the dumpter. It is a fraction of our waste.
Why do you always have such weird things available?
Amy, along with many of the volunteers, love to see people try new things, diversify their cooking habits, see people of ethnic backgrounds be delighted when they find something traditional, and people who exclaim "what!? That's $8 in store! You're telling me I can include it?". We love to hear stories of kids who hate produce, fall in love with it, learn to cook, and beg Amy for more "spider fruit" (rambutan)
what is Full Bellies Kids?
Full Bellies kids are all the kids who find themselves helping out at Full Bellies. Our Alexandria location is almost entirely run by our kids, teaching them the skills of life and raising our young people to one day be the leaders of this beautiful country. The kids who spend their time at Full Bellies have strong characters, giving hearts, and strong bodies from working hard. Volunteer hours can be given to highschool students looking to get their hours done.