Hunter Halder



Hunter Halder: An American at home in Portugal who, after a wide range of diverse and seeming unconnected career experiences, found his purpose as a dedicated volunteer when, at the tender age of 59, he founded the Re-food Movement. Now it all makes sense 🙂

Hope is everywhere… with Hunter Halder #isharehope Episode 120

Summary: Hunter’s answer to the five questions! Listen to the full conversation on the player above; also available on iTunes and Stitcher.

Question 1: How do you define hope or what is your favorite quote about hope?

Hunter Halder:

The way I see it, it’s a strong expectation that all will be well and it’s also the first and essential ingredient in producing good outcomes. If we want things to develop well, if we want things to go well, if we don’t hope in them, if we don’t believe that they will in fact come out well, I think it diminishes the chances. I think it’s very important to start any endeavor with the idea that it’s possible and that I can do it.

“I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.” ~Bob Hope

Question 2: Who has shared the most hope with you?

Hunter Halder:

I’m going to go with my mother first because she was always there and always hopeful. She said things like “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything”. She instilled in me a sense of faith and hope. I have a great dad too to my mother for sure in the way that I am today.

More recently and specifically with the work I do with the Re-Food movement, I’m going to have to say that it’s the people in the different cities and boroughs all over Portugal who have decided to make a difference using the Re-Food model as a tool to produce results in their community. That’s what gives me hope – to see that it has a tremendous amount of power because of the goodwill of the people who want to implement it.

Question 3: How have you used hope to make it through a difficult time in your life?

Hunter Halder:

I would say the main thing I have overcome is my own idea of myself which has sometimes led me down the wrong paths. The thing that I have overcome is in fact myself. I have created a life and slipped away completely, lost everything I think is the term we usually use. I had a couple of those and the most recent one was the thing that gave me the empathise to think about “if I’m having trouble, well what about other people?” They might be having trouble too and what are the solutions? Only in losing everything that I took a look in the mirror and I said, hey this guy’s not as young as he used to be. I’m going to reinvent my career, I have to do that again but maybe I don’t have so many more chances to reinvent my career and maybe this time I need to do something for other people. That was the genesis of the Re-Food Movement. It was first deciding that this time it’s not going to be about me. It’s going to be about other people. That was a fundamental decision. It was very important in my trajectory.

When I was about 30, I had built a kind of a rock n’ roll empire in Richmond, Virginia. I opened a night club and a restaurant and a concert company and was producing concerts. I was like 26 years old at the time and my hair was down to here and, you know, it was a couple hundred years ago, but I thought everything was just fine. I was just doing everything I wanted to do and suddenly it all just disappeared. That was like a reset button. I find that the negative experiences which are always accompanied by plenty of pain also are accompanied by opportunity. In our failures, this opportunity if we look for it, is there. It can only be acted upon if you see it with the eyes of hope. Losing everything for me has actually been a very educational process and I was able to see things that I couldn’t see without the negative experiences. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, but I sure did need it.

Question 4: How are you sharing hope today?

Hunter Halder:

The Re-Food movement again was a guy on a bicycle who thought maybe that these restaurants have good food at the end of the night that goes to the trash. It’s not something you hear about and so it was kind of a hidden thing. It occurred to me through a conversation with my daughter at a restaurant. We were sitting near the salad bar and she says “what’s going to happen to all that salad at the end of the night?” I suppose they’re going to the trash. If they don’t sell it today, they’re certainly not going to try to sell it tomorrow… I wrote that Re-Food Movement structure and model that same night and I showed it to my son the next day and he said that this would work and it needs to have a universal name, something like Re-Food.

It happened just like that in a conversation in the family and it produces results pretty much beyond wildest expectations.

We started with a 7-block area with one person rescuing the food and it was enough to feed 34 people 5 days a week just with one person working. It’s very efficient because you go to a restaurant, takes you about 5 minutes to grab their food and leave some empty packages for them to use the next day and then go to the next restaurant and do the same thing. You can go to 12 or 15 restaurants in 2 hours and have more food than you can carry and all in perfect condition.

There’s a tremendous amount of food and it’s ready every day in perfect conditions and for free. It’s also in the same place where people are hungry. It’s not illegal to donate excess food because there was the Good Samaritan Act passed in the 1990s which took the responsibility away from the donor. Here in Portugal the food safety system is taken from the American system, but we finally got the word from the food police (ASAE), what they said is that nothing prohibits the donation of excess food as long as hygiene and temperature and time are respected. There was no law against it.

We went from a 7-block area to 34 communities, from 1 volunteer to 4583. We went from feeding 34 people to 4064. We went from rescuing around 800 meals a month to rescuing 83,000 meals a month.

When we go into a new area, we don’t rescue any food. We hold a town meeting and we put up posters and give invitations to people as they walk out of church or on the street and we say, you know there’s perfectly good food going to the trash and people are hungry and there’s a way to fix it. Do you want to come to this meeting and hear about it?

Question 5: How should I (the listener) begin to grow in hope or share hope today?

Hunter Halder:

(1) If you think food rescuing is cool, you can find out who’s rescuing food in your community. If you think Re-Food is cool, you can be a Re-Food pioneer and we’ll help you startup Re-Food in your community.
(2) Never miss an opportunity to help.

Listen to the full conversation on the player above; also available on iTunes and Stitcher.