Gleaner’s Kitchen

When we ponder re-using, re-purposing,


most of us don’t think …



Photo courtesy of The Gleaner’s Kitchen

Note, I said, “most of us.”

“Most” doesn’t include Tufts University student Maximus Thaler, the freethinking founder of a “freegan” campus café called The Gleaner’s Kitchen.


Photo courtesy of The Gleaner’s Kitchen

What do I mean by “freegan”?

Well, freeganism is defined as the practice of reclaiming and eating produce/and or food that has been discarded.

You might know it by a more common term:

dumpster diving.


Photo courtesy of The Gleaner’s Kitchen


The food served by Thaler and his thrifty café cohorts is salvaged from dumpsters.


Photo courtesy of The Gleaner’s Kitchen


“According to multiple independent studies, almost half the food produced in the United States is thrown away. We believe this waste is flagrantly disrespectful to the environment and the millions of people in this country (including ourselves) who cannot afford healthy food,” Thaler explains. “Our response to this waste is to make use of it. At night, after the stores close, we go behind the back entrance, hop into a dumpster, and collect all the discarded produce we can. Every night, we bring back to our kitchen thousands of dollars’ worth of fresh food.”


Photo courtesy of The Gleaner’s Kitchen

Uninterested in profit, Thaler instead strives to turn waste into wealth by making fresh, wholesome meals from food that others thought was garbage. “Our ingredients come from dumpsters. We prepare them and give them away freely. There are no price tags. This is not a place of commerce, where you pay something to get something. Our aim is not to produce commodities, but to foster community.”


Photo courtesy of The Gleaner’s Kitchen

Originally, the Gleaner’s Café was housed in Thaler’s apartment, but with the help of a recent Kickstarter campaign, Thaler and his team raised $3,212 that will enable them to open up a real, live café where people can eat for free.


  1. Terry Steinmetz says:

    What a wonderful story. I know how much food goes to waste in our small community. I’m glad someone is using it and helping others in doing so.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am so impressed at the creativity and value of some of today’s young entrepreneurs! What an artistic response to wasted food. I wish them lots of luck with moving their idea forward. Better ideas are what is going to change our futures in sustainable ideas that benefit everyone!

  3. Karlyne says:

    Wow! Being practical, I wonder how they get around all of the “health” laws and how they’ll pay expenses such as utilities…

  4. Terry Z says:

    We recently returned some items we had left over from a party; I over-estimated the attendance by about 50% and needed the money to pay off the credit card. I was told that they would take it back, but that the food would have to be thrown away–brand new containers of mayonnaise and a case of potato chips. You are right, this should not be. I am sure fear of law suits due to the possibility that someone could alter the food is the reason. What a world we live in.

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