Frozen Pizza, Climate Change, and Community

Frozen pizza, climate change, and community are connected—in a good way. “How so?” you ask. Well, let me tell you a story.

Two friends and I that live thousands of miles apart enjoy 3-way phone calls to share news and just chat. During a recent phone conversation, one of my friends made an offhand remark about frozen pizza. It sparked my interest and I asked her to elaborate.

Sliced Pepperoni and Cheese PizzaThe story unfolds in the back of a grocery store where frozen pizzas are stored prior to the merchandiser, my friend, moving them out front and arranging them in the freezer display cases. She also removes pizzas that have reached their sell-by-date (an arbitrary date set by the pizza company) and returns them to the freezer in the back. The pizza company driver writes a credit to the store for the unsold pizzas and gets rid of them.

One day, my friend asked the driver “What happens to the out-of-date pizzas? Are they donated to a food bank?”

“No, the food banks won’t take them because they can’t be sure where the pizzas came from or how they’ve been stored” replied the driver. “We throw them in the dumpster.” As he was loading his cart he paused and said “Do you want some?”

“Sure. Thanks.”

Without a plan of what to do with the frozen pizzas, my friend loaded them in her car, drove home, and stuffed them in the freezer in her garage.

A few days later, she heard her neighbor’s grandson was visiting. Knowing the neighbor was living on a fixed income, she dropped by with a few pizzas. She took a stack of pizzas to friend who often feeds her teenage son and his friends. This friend knew someone on disability and passed on a few pizzas. My friend knew a few of her coworkers were struggling to make ends meet and asked them if they wanted some frozen pizzas. They did.

The freezer continues to be emptied and refilled. A second freezer was added. There is no plan, no distribution list, no system, no money changes hands, it just happens.

“What made you ask about what happened to the pizzas?” I asked my friend.

“It was in honor of my mother.” she said. “My mother hated seeing food wasted and couldn’t stand anyone being hungry. She was always donating to food banks and shelters, trying to help people get food.”

I thought, “It’s amazing. A simple thing like a frozen pizza in the hands of one woman led to reducing food waste and feeding hungry people in her community.”

Something clicked. I saw a connection between frozen pizza, climate change, and community. Throughout history, humans have been thrifty in times of need and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles by working together. As we face potentially cataclysmic impacts from climate change, thriftiness and helping each other will become increasingly critical.

My friend is ahead of the game. If everyone were to take action as she did, imagine what we could accomplish.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

2 thoughts on “Frozen Pizza, Climate Change, and Community”

  1. Great story! People reaching out to one another is really what makes us human. We just completed a Thanksgiving Dinner drive at our church. Our outreach group put together a shopping list for our Thanksgiving boxes. It consisted of:
    1. 2 cans of corn
    2. 2 cans of green beans
    3. 2 cans of carrots
    4. 1 can cranberries
    5. 2 cans turkey gravy
    6. l box of instant potatoes
    7. l or 2 boxes stuffing mix
    8. l box cornbread mix
    9. l carton quick oatmeal
    10. 2 $10 gift certificates for Stater’s Bros Market (to buy a turkey, a ham, dessert or whatever)
    The two women I sit with in church on Sunday and I shared the shopping and divided the cost – a win/win
    As we left church last Sunday, there were 70 decorated Thanksgiving boxes ready to be delivered to needy families in our area.
    We look forward to our shopping list for Christmas boxes.

    1. This too is a good story. How wonderful to help other families in your community enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings.

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