Taylor Moore to the Rescue!


By Veronica Gregory
Sun contributor

This is part of a series on young professionals and millennials in Leelanau who are having an impact.

Taylor Moore sits cheerfully under the shady trees outside the downtown Traverse City café Morsels on a brisk day. It’s not his shift at work, and he’s watching the construction vehicles at work across the street with a smile, not car envy. “I’ve always wanted to drive a truck, since I was a kid.” He has his own super-mobile of choice, the Food Rescue box truck, and driving it is one of the perks of his job. “There’s something really pleasant about it. People are really friendly on the road, and you’ve got to concentrate, and it’s a big, loud vehicle … it’s sweet.”

Born in Chicago, raised in London, and now operating from Maple City, Moore has experience with both food and community service. He has worked at a food bank, community gardens, and even went to culinary school. In his free time, he welcomes neighbors to dinner. When he’s in uniform, he works for Northwest Michigan Goodwill as manager of food programs, such as Food Rescue. Food Rescue saves products that are running out of shelf life from locations like grocery stores and cafes. This food is then transported to food pantries for consumption, sometimes in the large box trucks which Moore loves so much. He drives the trucks, picks up food, and delivers it to 34 pantries, with 48 programs accepting resources from Food Rescue in total.

Moore first worked with the Food Rescue program of Northwest Michigan Goodwill in 2015 as an AmeriCorps VISTA, and he says he “got lucky.” In his words, the world needs this program because, “there is an enormous amount of food that is wasted, both intentionally and unintentionally, in our community — that’s at homes, restaurants, grocery stores, farms — and our job is to get the healthiest food and to deliver it in a safe way at a good time to the pantries.” Moore explains that, “We have worked to go after — rescue — healthier food, so we’ve stopped picking up soda pop.” The drivers of the Food Rescue trucks aren’t the sole saviors of forgotten food. Moore details, “In order for Food Rescue to work, the first part is employees and managers at the stores saving food for us to pick up.” At lots of locations, he even knows the designated food rescuers by first name. The food pantries are also participants in the process. Even the visitors who come for food Moore calls “the last food rescuers.”

In recognition of his work, this spring Moore received the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council Environmentalist of the Year Award in the Professional category. “It was very unexpected,” he said. “But since coming on to Food Rescue, I have wanted to frame what it is we are doing and our mission as having an environmental impact, because it does.” He notes, “We are simultaneously having a positive environmental impact while also having an impact on hunger and, you know, social issues.” He emphasizes that “social issues exist within the environment, and vice versa.”

On the Morsels patio, Moore waves to boaters on the river and watches a pair of squirrels scramble around a tree with a laugh. Even in the fall-like breeze, he’s happy outside, admiring the natural life. Though not a Michigan native, Moore visited the area and worked at local businesses like the Good Harbor Grill and Art’s Tavern in summers past. Now living here as an adult, he observes, “it’s a really welcoming community. Not just Leelanau County, but throughout the area. Just nice people who look after each other, and there’s an authenticity to it.”

He shows his appreciation of his surroundings in his thought process on Food Rescue. “If we’re resolving issues of food waste, that most likely means we’re eating more meals as a family, we’re probably sharing more meals with neighbors, we will be supporting local farmers, supporting local water protection organizations. The trickle-down of reducing food waste touches everyone.”

Moore encourages all civilians to perform food rescue missions on their own. “Certainly at a household you can play your role, and it’s important to understand that we are one part and in order to make a serious dent, we need to support each other and improve, begin to work with each other and come up with new ideas and devote more resources more effectively to address issues of food insecurity and food access, food wastes, and ultimately, poverty.”

Those who are interested in volunteering this summer or any time of year are welcome to email volunteer@goodwillnmi.org.