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SOUTH HADLEY — When people move residences, they typically do a lot of purging before moving day. One common area to clean out is the pantry, resulting in large amounts of wasted food. Pioneer Moving is on a mission to use this practice to benefit to those in need though the company’s newly launched Pioneer Program.

The Pioneer Program collects non-perishable food from residents who are getting rid of items they don’t need and distributes it to shelters and food banks.

The program is 100% free to everyone involved and is simple to participate in. Consumers can obtain a Pioneer Program box from a real-estate agent, rental office, or another local business. The participants fill up their box with non-perishable, non-expired food. Then they can call the Pioneer Program to promptly pick up the box from them. The Pioneer Program team will distribute the food to a local food pantry or homeless shelter.

Pioneer Moving donates the boxes and labor time collecting and delivering the food.

Brian Clark, owner of Pioneer Moving, founded the Pioneer Program when he noticed a large amount of food being tossed in the trash by residents on moving day that could be donated. Knowing that people who are moving are typically rushed for time to get everything ready for the movers, Clark immediately recognized that residents would be more than happy to have someone help them easily get rid of items they no longer want or need.

“It just seemed like a no-brainer,” Clark said. “Most people in normal circumstances would not waste food like that or would donate it themselves. But moving is so stressful, with lots of things going on. Many times, the pantry is an afterthought, and they’ve run out of time to do anything else but throw everything away.”

According to American Community Survey data, for the past five years, just over 40 million Americans — about 13% of them — move each year. Even a small percentage of those households donating their unwanted food to a local food pantry would make a difference to the hunger problem in the U.S.

Clark’s vision is to engage residents as soon as possible in their moving process so the stress of pantry purging can be relieved early on. “If we could engage everyone involved in the home-buying, rental, and moving process in helping put this unwanted food to good use, we could make quite an impact in our community,” he explained. “Everything we do and everything we touch should be left better than we got it, and the Pioneer Program is part of that. Our goal is to help support local food banks and encourage others to do the same.”