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Community heroes, 360 Eats, champion food sustainability in Pinellas Park

Community heroes, 360 Eats, champion food sustainability in Pinellas Park

two people stand in front of a food truck with a white and green paint job
Co-Founders of 360 Eats, Cameron and Ellen Macleish. Photo via Cameron Macleish.

360 Eats delivers free, healthy, gourmet meals to food-deserts and low-income senior centers. Using excess food that would otherwise be dumped due to overstocking or slight packaging tears, mother-and-son Co-founders Cameron and Chef Ellen Macleish champion food sustainability in Pinellas Park, FL, winning the 2023 Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero Award.

“Traveling in Australia in 2015, I was introduced to a community of dumpster divers,” says Cameron. “Living breakfast, lunch, and dinner from food waste.” Dumpster diving flipped Cameron’s notion of food sustainability. The sheer volume of waste astounded him. “When I moved back to Florida, same situation in terms of food waste scale,” he says. “If not more wasteful. While families are struggling to get affordable, nutritious meals.”

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The lack of affordable, nutritious meals is most prominently reflected in America’s “food deserts”. The USDA defines “food deserts” according to these characteristics: at least 33% of the population lives more than one (urban) mile or 10 (rural) miles from the nearest supermarket or large grocery store; the poverty rate is greater than or equal to 20%, or income does not exceed 80% median family income. Areas that fall under the “food desert” category often lack reliable public transit as well, further limiting accessibility.

360 Eats providing free meals in Pinellas Park, FL. Photo courtesy of Cameron Macleish.

360 Eats delivers nutritious gourmet meals into the heart of food deserts

Operating out of a food truck, 360 Eats and their Sustain-A-Bowl initiative delivers free, healthy, gourmet meals into the heart of food deserts and low-income senior centers. Through various donors and partnerships, each week 360 Eats receives about 5,000 LBS of food—perfectly good food that would otherwise be dumped due to overstocking or slight tears in packaging. A staff of dieticians and chefs sort the food, and then develop a bowl concept for the week.

The bowl concepts adhere to the USDA’s My Plate standard and Harvard’s nutrition model. The bowls contain a balance of healthy grains, vegetables, choice of protein, along with a side of fruit. And in-house sauces dress each bowl.

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Volunteer opportunities with 360 Eats

For their efforts, 360 Eats was awarded the 2023 Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero Award. “Selflessness, passion and kindness are qualities in people that inspire me on a daily basis,” says Cameron. 360 Eats plans to cover most of Pinellas Park within the next year and expand throughout the greater Tampa Bay area within the next 5 years.

Follow 360 Eats on Instagram for further developments, and if you’re Interested in volunteering, read about how you can contribute to the 360 Eats mission here, or if you or a community you know needs meals, check the 360 Eats distribution calendar here.

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