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International Nonprofit Redirects Unused Food to Help the Hungry

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We believe that food should go to people and not to landfills, so five years ago we launched 412 Food Rescue. In the United States, 40% of food produced is wasted while 1 in 9 people goes hungry. We address both problems by redirecting healthy food from the waste stream to nonprofits that serve food insecure populations. We developed an award-winning app, Food Rescue Hero to coordinate community-powered networks in our flagship city of Pittsburgh. It now measurably impacts food insecurity in Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles and soon, Vancouver, B.C. In support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2, 12 and 13, we plan to expand this to 100 cities by 2030. Our volunteer drivers around the globe have redirected more than 12 million pounds of food, going directly to our nonprofit partners to feed the hungry. 

The COVID-19 crisis has made it even harder for vulnerable communities to reach food assistance.  Our model is designed to respond very effectively to this crisis because our volunteer network reaches people where they are. We can go directly to those in need without volunteers having to be in contact with others. Our field operators have been working tirelessly to make sure the shocks to the food supply chain do not create even more surplus food waste. Now more than ever, food must get to the most vulnerable in our community and those that need it. 

We are currently testing a new program to provide safe home deliveries of food to those in need. An initial pilot run delivered emergency food to 175 households in late March, and we are mobilizing to expand the program substantially in April and May. Here is a link to a video explaining how the Home Delivery program works. We have also been executing bus stop distributions with partners. This experience really illustrates the importance of partnerships and collaborations.

Our organization has been one of very few nonprofits to see a surge in volunteer sign-ups since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, with 1,200 new app downloads in March alone.  Anyone can register to volunteer with 412 Food Rescue by downloading the Food Rescue Hero app, available on iOS and Android. The network is coordinated by technology, but it’s powered by communities – by the goodwill of ordinary people who want to make the world a little more livable for all of us. In the face of this pandemic, there’s a sense of helplessness. But there’s still so much we can do for each other. Our platform gives people a safe way to help their neighbors.

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