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  • Writer's pictureRosa Hernandez

Staff Spotlight: Ted Kolnitys

Ted standing at the back of a Waste Not truck.

Ted Kolnitys has been a Waste Not Driver for over a year. When I arrived at the warehouse to ride along with him for the day, he was excited to begin and get on the road. Ted’s typical day starts around 5:30 am. He inspects his truck, checks his route, and is on his way.

 

Ted is originally from Michigan before moving out West, living in New Mexico first before settling down in Arizona. Prior to Waste Not, Ted was a small business owner. When I asked him why he applied to Waste Not, he said it seemed like an interesting job he’d enjoy since he likes to drive and would be helping his neighbors out.

 

Before hitting the road for the day, Ted told me we had five stores to pick up from and three agencies to drop off at. He also said his number one priority is to be a safe driver because “safe driving is key in order for me to get the food to the people who need it.” Checking his mirrors, being vigilant on the road, and giving himself plenty of space when turning into traffic is something Ted did all throughout the day.

 

When we got to our first store, there were three grocery carts worth of food to box up and load onto the truck.

 

Ted took his time to treat each piece of food with care. He separated out produce, meats, dairy, and baked goods so that when he got to the agencies, he’d be able to get what they needed quicker without rifling through a multitude of boxes.


Ted sorting out food.

The extra mile Ted went to sort these groceries is not out of the ordinary. Ted loves to do what he can to support Waste Not by going above and beyond. Including when he broke his wrist, but still helped out doing admin tasks and supporting our 2023 Empty Bowls back in October.


Ted Kolnitys and Anthony Morris. Ted featured left.

After we finished out first store, we repeated this process four more times - picking up more and more food from each stop. We drove from Chandler to Tolleson, rescuing food that normally would have gone to the landfill. And along the way, I got to know Ted a bit better.


As a husband for more than 36 years and a dad of three grown-up daughters and a grandad of six, you can hear the pride in his voice when he talks about his family. He’s also a gardener and hiker who loves musicals and 70’s and 80’s rock.


Ted holding up fresh cheese next to a tower of boxes of fresh food.

Ted's desire to help people and the planet shined through every action he made throughout the day. Whether it was packing food, giving out fist bumps, laughing with neighbors as they made light of the work, or the number of times he went back and forth carrying boxes of food out of the truck and into the hands of our partners - Ted's work flourished.


After finishing up for the day, we headed back to our affiliate United Food Bank, where Waste Not parks their trucks. When I asked Ted what the work he does means to him, he said, “It makes me aware of how important our mission is. I’ve pulled up to agencies with 40 or more people lined up – just waiting for food. We are really helping people and it touches me that in some small way I’m a part of that.”


Ted bringing out a box of food while two YMCA staff member load up food.

In the last year, Ted has driven over 19,111 miles and delivered over 394,283 pounds of food.

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