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Dumpster Diving for Food

Updated on January 18, 2019
Annsalo profile image

Wife and mother of 3 trying to make sure my family is ready for anything.


My New Hobby ~ Dumpster Diving For Food

OK, well let me start with saying, please save the "ewws" and "gross". Instead open your mind to a new way to help others!

So to my husbands dismay my latest hobby has been dumpster diving. This started shortly after me finding a subreddit on reddit that was talking about how much food is thrown out each year by stores.

So with my stomach in knots, feeling nervous, I drove up to my first dumpster and hopped out to look in. I was shocked! I immediately told my husband to get out and open our trunk. There were bags and bags of snacks just right on top like they were waiting on me to rescue them from the trash. I loaded our trunk full in about 30 seconds with a bit of an adrenaline rush. We sped away feeling like we had just done something wrong, even though we knew what we did was legal.

The issue was the stereotype we all know about dumpster diving. I felt a bit of shame and a bit of embarrassment. This only lasted for a couple days. The next time we went out we found enough non perishable food that we had to put some in the basement because I ran out of cabinet space.

So then we were left with the dilemma. Do we leave the rest of that food in the dumpsters until we use this all up or do we keep gathering and figure something to do with the food?

My over full cabinets, stocked by a dumpster!
My over full cabinets, stocked by a dumpster! | Source

Dumpster Diving Food to Give Away

Then it happened. I was standing in my kitchen trying to unpack my groceries and I realized, DONATE IT!

I live in a small town with no real food bank so I went to craigslist and posted an ad in the free section. All I had were chips, crackers, bread, and candy. All was less than a few days out of date and by all websites I found (and my belly that enjoyed much of it) the food was still good. I made the post very clear that the food was out of date. I expected maybe one or two replies. When I woke the next morning and checked my email I was surprised. I had 34 emails asking for the food.

We met a local mother of 2 in our town and gave her two trash bags full of snacks. It was great. We found a use for this food that would otherwise have gone to the dump. So now once a week we will meet with one family and give them whatever we can.

You can find all sorts of things. Now that we have been doing this a few years we have figured out you can find:

  • Chips
  • Bread
  • Soda
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Canned soups
  • Canned Meats
  • Entire sealed bags of produce
  • Boxed Crackers

So imagine all the good you could do, especially considering many times this stuff is just sitting on top, clean, and in date.


Not For You?

So grabbing food out the dumpster isn't for you? That's okay, but now I have to ask what is? Have you found your one way to help those in need? If we all look hard enough we can find a way to help those in need. So find your way or find your local dumpster and dive in!

First Dive
First Dive | Source

Have You Ever Dumpster Dived?

See results

Not me, but great example

Update May 2014

Still here and still dumpster diving. Not too long ago my family fell on seriously hard times. During those times we continued to dumpster dive and continued to help ourselves get back to financially stable. Even though we have been struggling we have still found many things that we could still donate. Hopefully one day dumpster diving will become obsolete as businesses decide to do the right thing on their own.

Update April 2015

So we are doing much better financially, and guess what!? Still dumpster diving when we can. I haven't bought dog food in 2 years and my dogs are eating high end blue buffalo most of the time! I have to say it is great saving money and saving the landfills. We are back to donating anything we have extra. It amazes me still how much is thrown out when we have so many people in need!


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I like dumpster diving but unfortunately it is much harder to get to such places in recent time. I live in one poor European country but a lot of food get destroyed. The authorities do not give access to such food "caring" for our health. So, they think that we have rather to die than to eat eventually rotten vegetables. Actually,I do not look like common dumpster diver. I work and I live in an apartment with my recent University graduated son and a cat. He is working but still we can not earn enough money for basic needs. We pay rent, bills and food is expensive while wages are very low. Some savings concerning food would help us a lot.

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have dumpster dived but not for food. I found furniture for my apartment. I love to upcycle things and reuse them to decorate with. What a good idea to find food for people that need it. I personally would eat it rather than be hungry. God Bless you for this great idea to help others. Well done:)

    • GwennyOh profile image


      8 years ago

      I have to hand it to you for doing your thing. I must say that I couldn't. Thank goodness I have other ways to help people. Keep on at it.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You did an extraordinary thing!!! It is not gross at all! Thank you for writing this! I am a good friend of Bill's. I left HP after like 6 months and started from scratch last week. Keep on writing, don't give up!!! /Bill posted your hub on a FB group he created. Would you like to join? You can friend Bill (see the FB button on his profile or mine to connect with us there.) Also, here is the group link if it works...

    • Annsalo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Somewhere

      @btrbell, it does make life easier on the divers when people actually put things outside the garbage! Glad you are enjoying!

      @Bill Thanks for commenting. I was close to giving up on HP, but I think you may have given me a reason to keep writing here!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Excellent my friend and I gotta tell you, I have done this, and it is hard that first time, and yes, embarrassing, but what you have written is absolutely true. Great job and thank you once again for caring so much for others.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      8 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      This is great and I truly commend you and what you are doing. Dumpster diving is not for me but not because I don't agree with it but because, number one, if I got in there, I probably wouldn't get out and two, in my neighborhood, we already have several divers and i know they are making use of what they find. My contribution in this category is to make their lives easier by leaving things that I would be donating for them outside of the garbage! I am enjoying your hubs and have signed up for your blog, also!


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