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Waste-free nonprofit 'Sunday Lunchbox' fights food insecurity with free deliveries

Food donations are dropped off directly to families in need, completely free of charge.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin wastes tons of food – 1.2 million pounds every day – with only 0.6% of that food being locally produced.

In a quiet North Austin neighborhood lies a seemingly ordinary house with a quintessential two-car garage. However, you won't find any cars inside. Instead, you'll find a fully renovated kitchen, with a handful of volunteers packing orders, wrapping and labeling snacks – and lots and lots of baking. 

Sunday Lunchbox is a growing nonprofit whose ultimate goal is to end food injustice, with a sustainable twist.

"It was surrounded by the idea that a lot of kids, they get lunch at school but don't have food over the weekends, so thus Sunday," founder Kristen Starr said. "I realized – I suspected that a lot of moms, dads, parents, either don't have access to healthy food or don't have access to the time. Or, quite frankly, aren't super interested in spending a lot of time creating a healthy but beautiful lunch for their kids."

Starr and her team work around the clock with local farms and produce suppliers, collecting donations of fresh fruits and vegetables. These donations are dropped off directly to families in need, completely free of charge.

Leftover produce is dehydrated and transformed into their menu.

"We have a few core recipes that then whatever we get in terms of products, we can use it. So whether it's strawberries, blackberries or blueberries, or imagine in the future, we get apples or peaches," Starr said.

The treats are kid-friendly with kid-friendly names. Two of the main snack orders are "Stoodles" and "T'uffins." Stoodle packets are like ramen, just better for you and locally sourced. T'uffins are muffins with that same sustainable, local twist.

Since its start in November 2020, Sunday Lunchbox has saved over 1,200 pounds of produce, donated around 30,000 servings and currently feeds around 75 kids a week.  

Those are big numbers, but Starr has even bigger plans.

"We have numerical goals that are approximately 200% of what we did last year," Starr said. 

But scaling up requires more manpower – or superpower.

"My personal goal is to help people use their superpower for good, so whatever it is that you're good at, or whatever it is you want to learn, whether it's cooking, baking," Starr said. "If you just want to sit in your car with the windows down and enjoy a Sunday afternoon and drive throughout Austin, we've got a shift for you as well."

Closing the gap between food waste and food insecurity in Austin may seem like a superhuman task, but Sunday Lunchbox is a prime example of how when people come together, even big goals can be accomplished.

If you would like to get involved with Sunday Lunchbox, it is holding its inaugural "sunset chase" fundraiser on July 7. More info can be found on the gorup's Facebook page

If you know of a person or organization going above and beyond with their sustainable or eco-friendly approach to life here in Central Texas, Grace Thornton would love to hear from you!

Her email is gthornton@kvue.com. You can also message her on social media, on her accounts listed below. 

Grace Thronton on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram 

KVUE on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

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