Helping Businesses Reduce Hunger and Waste

Past Featured Partnership

Portland International Airport & St. Vincent De Paul

Portland International Airport and St. Vincent De Paul create donation program through great partnerships. 


Portland International Airport (PDX) is owned and operated by the Port of Portland (Port).  Its 27 restaurants generate over 14 tons of food waste each month. The Port’s waste minimization program -with the help of a team of graduate students from Portland State University’s Community Environmental Services (CES) program - supports the collection of food waste and compostable fibers from airport restaurants.  The team couldn’t help but notice the many sandwiches, muffins and other high quality surplus foods among the vegetable scraps and coffee grounds in the food waste bins.


The Port introduced the idea of donating this high quality food in 2012. Many restaurant managers were immediately eager to participate, but unsure how the program would work in the complex airport environment involving multiple tenants and airport security. While there are many service providers that collect and distribute donated food in Portland, the Port team ultimately decided to partner with St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP), a food rescue organization that distributes food directly to meal programs.


With restaurants in five concourses, the Port set up a convenient, centralized storage area for the donations, and worked with SVdP to address the logistical challenges of airport security and establish a pick-up schedule. The restaurants donated pre-packaged foods (such as sandwiches, salads, and yogurt parfaits), baked goods, whole uncut produce, and other dry products.


In February 2013, SVdP made their first trip to PDX.  The program was so successful after its launch that the initial cooler had to be replaced with a larger one after just one month. In its first four months almost 5,000 meals have been donated to people in need. The program has also sparked interest from nearby businesses that can benefit from SVdP’s existing pick-up route. 


Pictures courtesy of the Port