LOGAN SQUARE — A grocery delivery company that recently opened a store on Logan Square’s Milwaukee Avenue is catching heat from neighbors for throwing out bags of fresh produce and other unopened groceries.
Buyk, a New York City-based startup that provides express grocery delivery by bike, opened several stores across Chicago late last year, including one location at 2774 N. Milwaukee Ave., as part of a venture capital-backed expansion plan.
But as Buyk broadens its Chicago footprint, some Logan Square residents are raising concerns about the company’s food disposal policy.
Megan Milich lives in a condo building that shares an alley with Buyk. While taking her trash out last week, Milich saw Buyk workers throw out “industrial-sized” garbage bags filled with still-packaged groceries, including unopened yogurt that hadn’t expired, she said. She put the bags atop the dumpster, hoping to save them from the landfill and get the goods to someone in need.
Then, earlier this week, Milich found a few more bags in the dumpster filled with fresh, high-quality produce, including apples, radishes, potatoes, onions and squash, she said.
Milich said she was outraged the delivery company would discard what looked to be perfectly good, healthy food, especially given how many Chicagoans suffer from food insecurity and how many organizations provide free food to neighbors in need.
“There’s so many people who are in need of food, and it really broke my heart to see that a company was throwing away such quality, good food,” she said.
Buyk launched in New York City in September. As of early January, the company had 28 stores there and seven in Chicago, with plans to open 14 more by spring.
A customer orders food on the company’s app and a bike courier delivers the order in five to 15 minutes with no delivery fee. The company’s stores are not open to the public but are stocked with food from local and national vendors.
Asked about Buyk’s food waste policy, CEO James Walker said his company partners with “multiple food banks and charities” to minimize food waste.
But Walker said those donations don’t always pan out.
“Each partner has limitations surrounding pickup days and frequency, per occasion donation limits, and types of products accepted,” Walker said in a statement. “From time to time, there may be instances when a partner is unable to accept the goods.”
Walker said Buyk also discounts fresh products to minimize waste.
When it became clear food from the Logan Square store was headed to the landfill, Milich took the groceries home. She posted in Logan Square’s Buy Nothing Facebook group, asking her neighbors for help distributing the groceries to people who need food.
Milich said she was surprised by the overwhelming response.
Several neighbors picked up produce; some wanted to help and others needed the food themselves, like a woman and her two children, Millich said.
Milich said she and other neighbors hope to connect Buyk with local pantries so any unused food goes to people in need — and not to the landfill.
“It just filled my heart that people needed the food,” she said. “Not an apple was wasted.”
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