Portland prides itself on being a city that recycles. But that doesn’t mean we don’t create plenty of waste.Last year, the nonprofit Blanchet House (310 NW Glisan St., blanchethouse.org) proved both points, by rescuing over 420,000 pounds of food from the dumpster.

The charity, which has been operating for nearly 70 years, scoops up leftovers from dozens of restaurants and grocery stores each day, to help serve three free meals a day, six days a week, to people in need. That includes pizza slices from Hot Lips and Lucky Lab, desserts from Cupcake Jones, and shrimp, steak and chicken from the Melting Pot.

“Saturday lunch is one of the most popular meals of the week,” says spokeswoman Julie Showers. (Disclosure: Showers is a former WW art director.) “That’s when we serve the pizza slices we have been collecting from Hot Lips and Lucky Lab.”

Because the organization operates on a no-questions-asked basis, it doesn’t collect data on guests. But it estimates that half the people it serves are homeless and half are low income.

On average, Showers says, Blanchet House serves 4,000 to 7,000 plates of food per week. But, she adds, the group does more than just feed the hungry.

“Blanchet House is more than free meals. It’s safety. It’s comfort,” Showers says. “We offer free meals and relief from suffering, if only for a moment, to thousands of people every week.”

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