FREE LUNCH for 5000: Austin Takes Food Waste Off the Table

Austin will become the latest U.S. city to join the global campaign to shine a light on food waste with a Feeding the 5000 event.  Lunch made entirely out of fresh food that would otherwise have been wasted will be served on Thursday, October 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the south lawn of the Texas State Capitol.

The event is scheduled a few days after World Food Day and presented in collaboration with Feedback, the London-based organization behind the Feeding the 5000 campaign. It’s organized by Austin Resource Recovery, Central Texas Food Bank, Keep Austin Fed and the Austin Chapter of the New Leaders Council.

“Feeding the 5000 will be a spectacular public celebration around solutions to food waste,” said Selene Castillo, Austin Resource Recovery Planner. “This event will demonstrate how food recovery can be used locally to help Austinites who are food insecure.”

Local chefs Chris Hurley and Jennifer Costello of The Bonneville will transform surplus food otherwise headed to the landfill into a delicious, communal lunch.  Some of the ingredients include misshapen sweet potatoes, small butternut squash and even pasta trimmings. The event also includes on‐stage cooking demonstrations, speakers and local live music. Speakers include state Senator Kirk Watson and local AISD student Ian McKenna, who will tell the story of how he started fighting hunger by growing vegetables for his classmates. Organizations such as Fresh Chefs Society, Little Herds, and the City’s Office of Sustainability will provide interactive booths designed to educate visitors about food waste and inspire them to take action at home and in their communities. 

In preparation for the celebration, Feeding the 5000 volunteers will recover thousands of pounds of edible food from nearby schools, food producers and companies. Head chefs from the Bonneville will be joined by chefs in training from Fresh Chefs Society and the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts to lead volunteers in a chopping party the day before the event to peel and dice the surplus food.  

Feeding the 5000 events call attention to the global issue of food waste—at least a third of the world’s food doesn’t get eaten—and highlight solutions that everyone can implement.

“We hope this event inspires the community to become involved and commit themselves to reducing their own food waste and asking businesses to do the same,” said Gena McKinley, Board Member for the New Leaders Council. “Let’s create a food system that feeds bellies, not trash bins.”

Austin’s Feeding the 5000 is open to everyone. Come to learn about ways you can reduce food waste while enjoying a delicious meal together.

For event details, full schedule and parking information, please visit AustinTexas.Gov/Feeding5K.


About Austin Resource Recovery

Austin Resource Recovery provides a wide range of services designed to transform waste into resources while keeping our community clean. Services include curbside collection of recycling, trash, yard trimmings and large brush and bulk items; street sweeping; dead animal collection; household hazardous waste disposal and recycling; and outreach and education. In December 2011, the Austin City Council approved the Austin Resource Recovery Master Plan, which is the City’s road map to Zero Waste. The City of Austin is committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to area landfills by 90 percent by 2040 or sooner.

About Central Texas Food Bank

The mission of Central Texas Food Bank is to nourish hungry people and lead the community in the fight against hunger. Founded in 1981, the Food Bank provides food and grocery products through a network of nearly 300 Partner Agencies and nutrition programs, serving nearly 46,000 people every week. Headquartered in Austin, the Food Bank serves 21 counties in Central Texas, an area about twice the size of Massachusetts. For more information on the Food Bank and its programs, visit

About Feedback

Feedback is a nonprofit environmental organization working to end waste at every level of the food system. From its humble beginnings as a one-off event in London in 2009, Feedback’s flagship Feeding the 5000 event has grown into a global campaign, taking place in more than 40 cities around the world and catalyzing local and international efforts to end food waste.

About Keep Austin Fed

Keep Austin Fed is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that gathers wholesome and nutritious surplus food from commercial kitchens and distributes it to area nonprofits that serve people in need. The organization’s mission is to reduce hunger and help the environment by connecting surplus food and hungry neighbors.

About New Leaders Council – Austin

New Leaders Council (NLC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that engages a diverse, collaborative national network of progressive political entrepreneurs. NLC is building a growing corps of new progressive leaders who will rise to the top of their fields and work together across sectors to build, expand, and improve the progressive infrastructure necessary for strong democracy, social justice, and equal opportunity.