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Poppyseed Project makes good use of bagels intended for trash

Author: Marsha A. Stoltz

RIDGEWOOD– Where do leftover fresh-baked bagels go at the end of each day when local bagel shops close their doors?

Into the trash.

Village resident and bagel lover Linda Bradley said she discovered the tasty bagels’ fate one afternoon as she ordered a sandwich at a neighborhood deli. That inspired her to start the Poppyseed Project.

“I asked the owner why he was tossing leftover bagels into the trash,” she said. “He said, ‘It breaks my heart, but this is what we do when they don’t sell,” Bradley said. “I was in another deli and asked the same question and got the same answer.”

Ernesto Enriquez of Bagel Bros II in Waldwick said he had even taken to standing in the parking lot and handing out bagels to passersby at the end of the day.

“It’s bread,” said Enriquez, who has joined Poppyseed. “It’s a blessing.”

Bradley was looking for a more efficient way to make sure the leftovers were put to good use. She first went to Stacey Antine, of HealthBarn Foundation, a major participant in the state’s Sustain and Serve program. The program has employed restaurants during the COVID pandemic to make meals for food pantries and shelters. Antine referred her to Julie Kinner, vice president of operations at the Table to Table food rescue program.

“Our focus is on high-quality proteins and vegetables, but Linda was very convincing,” Kinner said. “It’s another part of the puzzle: how not to throw food away that can be eaten, keeping it out of the environment. Plus, Linda said, there’s just something about a bagel.”

Kinner challenged Bradley to come up with a list of donors and recipients, and the Poppyseed Project escalated. The Table to Table I-Rescue app is used to connect volunteer pickups and deliveries.

“As soon as the mission was explained to owners, they all jumped on the chance,” Bradley said.

Among the first were Poonam Agrawal and Rajiv Kumar of Hot Bagels in Ridgewood.

“There’s only so much you can do with a leftover bagel, maybe make bagel chips, and that’s a lot of labor,” Agrawal said. “Throwing away bagels, that’s just terrible.”

Hot Bagels now gets pickups Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, with the possibility of moving to every day in the near future.


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