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Meet the snowboard instructor helping feed people in Aspen

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Some of the richest people in the world have homes in Aspen, Colo., but there are also people there who struggle to afford food. Now a local snowboarder is helping them out. Aspen Public Radio's Kyle Williams reports.

GRAY WARR: Oh, hey. Hey, Keenan. How you doing?

(SOUNDBITE OF METAL CLANGING)

KYLE WILLIAMS, BYLINE: Every Friday morning, in the delivery docks of grocery stores and parking spots outside of bakeries, Gray Warr shows up to take the leftovers.

WARR: Is that eggnog?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yeah.

WARR: Oh, I love eggnog.

WILLIAMS: Warr founded the nonprofit Harvest for Hunger a couple of years ago to rescue unsold food and redistribute it to people in need. Over the course of a day, this 43-year-old ski school supervisor in a beanie and a branded vest will pick up 1,300 pounds of food.

WARR: There's more food than we could ever get rid of. I want to start focusing on not only helping the people that are desperate, but also helping the people that are living paycheck to paycheck.

WILLIAMS: So today he's set up in a hotel loading zone next to a ski slope. Drew Shippey, who works for the ski company, is stoked to be here.

DREW SHIPPEY: It's exciting. It's like a thrift store for food. It's fantastic.

WILLIAMS: It's the end of fall, when work is scarce in ski towns, so he's grateful for the free goodies.

SHIPPEY: I mean, I just benefit from it. I appreciate all the hard work that everyone else is doing. But, I mean, I spread the word that it's a good program.

WILLIAMS: Warr got the idea for food rescue when he saw tourists leaving lots of uneaten groceries behind at the end of their vacations. He wanted it to go to struggling resort workers. Soon he started going to stores for donations and packing a van full of stuff like veggies, bread and birthday cake.

WARR: Yeah, so food banks are designed to help people survive. And food rescue, I feel, is designed to help people thrive.

WILLIAMS: Katherine Sand is with the local social service agency Aspen Family Connections. She's a big fan of Gray Warr.

KATHERINE SAND: It's not just what he's doing, but I think it's the spirit of what he's doing that is so unusual and beautiful and such a gift to our community.

WILLIAMS: The workers who keep this resort economy running sometimes live on ramen and PB&Js just so they can make rent next month. But Warr believes everyone should have the opportunity to eat well. So now he's setting up a permanent food pantry in Snowmass. It's expected to be open by the end of the year. For NPR News, I'm Kyle Williams in Aspen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ERIC TUCKER SONG, "FWM (FEAT. FRE$H)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Kaya Williams

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