Austin egg producers help Keep Austin Fed

UPDATE April 19 — We received 20 dozen eggs during the Funky Chicken Coop Tour!

  • KAF egg drive connects surplus eggs from backyard poultry keepers with KAF recipients
  • Donate eggs or volunteer to staff an info booth to accept donated eggs
  • Upcoming events include Funky Chicken Coop Tour on April 19 and Austin Bluebonnet Egg Show on May 31.

In June 2013, Keep Austin Fed partnered with the Austin Bluebonnet Egg Show to make sure eggs entered into the contest didn’t wind up going to waste — the eggs are usually destroyed at the end of the day. We collected 60 dozen eggs following the show that was held at Callahan’s General Store. Some backyard chicken keepers even brought us some of their surplus eggs. (Photos from our first egg drive)

A boy and girl pose with a half dozen eggs they donated to the Keep  Austin Fed egg drive.

Emma and Owen donated a half dozen eggs from their flock of three birds during Keep Austin Fed’s first egg drive June 1, 2013 at Callahan’s General Store.

That was the official launch of the Keep Austin Fed Egg Drive, an effort to connect backyard poultry keepers with KAF recipients. We set the unlikely goal of 1,000 dozen eggs to see what would happen.

While we didn’t reach our goal in 2013, Austin chicken enthusiasts provided 428.5 dozen eggs in about 6 months.

That’s 5,142 ways Austin-area egg producers helped Keep Austin Fed.

Today we collect hundreds of eggs every month from such donors as Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, and Wheatsville.

9 children gather around a man holding an 18 pack of donated chicken eggs

Operations Director Joseph de Leon drops off the first egg donation to the children of Posada Esperanza.

Many Austin area charities receive egg donations from Keep Austin Fed, including Austin Restoration Ministries, Outcry in the Barrio, Casa Marianella, and SafePlace.

Egg drive starts

Susan Lemke, Austin Bluebonnet Egg Show coordinator, donated the very first eggs a couple of  months in advance of the show. She often has many more than she can share with neighbors.

That first 18 pack was served for breakfast April 12, 2013 to several families at Posada Esperanza, a shelter for immigrant women with children.

The visit turned into a chicken lesson as children asked why some of the eggs were blue or green, and what the chickens names were. They passed around the eggs and wondered what the chickens that laid them looked like.

Soon, Susan suggested we partner to see how many eggs we could collect at the upcoming egg show.

KAF donors rally

A farmer and volunteer stand next to a farmers market table dispalying many dozens of eggs donated to Keep Austin Fed.

Organic egg producer Organicare occasionally donates surplus eggs to Keep Austin Fed after the Mueller Farmers Market closes at 2 p.m. on Sundays.

As we’ve grown, so has the number of size of our food donations. Whole Foods Market reached out to us in January to ask KAF to help them coordinate a surplus food donation ahead of a remodeling of the Gateway location. KAF coordinated the collection and distribution of more than 8 tons of food that day, including many dozens of eggs. When the store reopened in March, Whole Foods Gateway invited us back as a community partner to help welcome shoppers, which netted even more egg donations.

While staffing an info booth at Mueller Farmers Market in late February, a market vendor called Organicare asked if we’d like some eggs. We didn’t expect to receive 41 dozen eggs that day, but are recipients were glad we did.

It was the start of a commercial-sized egg drive.

Attracting poultry enthusiasts

dozens of broken eggs sit in a 5-gallon bucket ready to be composted

Eggs are usually destroyed following egg shows. Compost Coalition Austin provides buckets to make sure the broken eggs can be fed to animals or composted. If Keep Austin Fed volunteers sign up, the eggs can be set aside and donated to our recipients.

While most of our eggs come from grocery stores, we’re still reaching out to backyard chicken keepers to help provide eggs to our recipients. Most of the clients our recipients serve covet eggs because they are so versatile and delicious. Getting yard eggs is a special treat because the eggs are often different colors and sizes, prompting lots of discussion and jokes.

Some chicken keepers feed surplus eggs back to their flock because it’s nutritious and the egg shells provide valuable minerals needed to produce more eggs. Poultry shows commonly destroy eggs after events.

Where possible, we try to match those surplus eggs to KAF recipients, but we need more volunteers.

There are two chances coming up: the Funky Chicken Coop Tour and the Austin Bluebonnet Egg Show. Keep Austin Fed will have an info booth at each event to spread the word about the work we do. Our volunteers will also collect egg donations, provide free egg cartons while supplies last, and transport the eggs under ice to our recipients.

Get all the details on the KAF Egg Drive page or e-mail for details.

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