Whoever said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch must not be familiar with Feeding the 5000. The event will transform 2,000 pounds of recovered food into complimentary meals for thousands at Denver’s Skyline Park on October 14. It’s all part of a massive campaign by London-based nonprofit, Feedback (founded by renowned activist Tristram Stuart), which has held similar festivals across the globe. The goal of the event, as Boulder-based organizer and food waste activist David Laskarzewski puts it, is to “create more awareness about the fact that we’re throwing away 40 percent of our food supply.” It’s a problem that carries both ethical (one in eight Coloradan’s are food insecure) and environmental consequences (food waste generates massive amounts of climate change-inducing methane gas as it rots in landfills).

But the positive news is that this is an issue with a “delicious solution,” Laskarzewski says. And this festival’s approach to addressing it is indeed a tasty one. James Beard Award-Winning chef Jennifer Jasinski and chef Jorel Pierce will repurpose 2,000 pounds of healthful produce that would have otherwise been destined for landfills to create the meals. The produce itself will be recovered from local farms such as Grant Farms and the Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms; We Don’t Waste, a Denver-based food recovery nonprofit; and a fleet of volunteers (more on that below).

The best part? The free food will be available for anybody in the community. Stop by and enjoy a meal on Oct 14, and hopefully you’ll be inspired to examine how you can reduce food waste in your own household.

Bonus: Looking to get involved in Feeding the 5000? Go on a gleaning mission to harvest the produce in advance of the event from the fields of Grant Farms (Saturday October 8, 9 a.m. to noon) or at Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms (Monday October 10 from 3 to 5 p.m.). Or, head over to the Disco Chop at Johnson & Wales University (October 12 from 1:30 to 7:45 p.m.) where you can listen to tunes as you help chop and prep the produce for chefs Jasinski and Pierce.

October 14 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Skyline Park (16th and Arapahoe streets)

Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.