From Ride Sharing to Food Sharing: How Food Rescue US is Revolutionizing Community Service in America

by Amanda A Swan

If you’ve ever used Uber, you know just how easy and convenient it is. There’s no waiting to hail a cab or walking from the bus stop. You simply make a few taps on your smartphone and in five minutes or so, voilà, a car appears and takes you right where you need to go.

Ride-sharing apps have revolutionized American transportation options, and made us wonder: What else can we share using our smartphones? Startups like Food Rescue US are demonstrating that smartphones can indeed help us share quite a lot. According to a recent study by the Guardian, about half of produce in the US is thrown away every year — that’s about 60 million tons of fruits and veggies. A 2016 study by the Food Waste Alliance claims that a whopping 122.3 million pounds of food was unused by restaurants over the course of the year. 93.7% of this unused food was “disposed of” and only a measly two percent of this massive amount was donated. So, what if it was just as easy to press a button and give this wasted food to the some 50 million food insecure Americans as it is to call an Uber?

Food Rescue US is a food-sharing app that prevents food waste by connecting restaurants and organizations that have too much food with hungry people. With just a few taps, you can sign up to donate or deliver food through Food Rescue US. Just like Uber, the Food Rescue US app works because it’s easy and it’s convenient. You don’t have to work around a soup kitchen’s schedule or seek out a food pantry to help others in your community, the opportunity exists right at your fingertips.

 This convenience is incredibly important for the American population. Millennials work an average of 45 hours per week in the US, and even though many would like to find time to volunteer for their communities, it often just doesn’t fit into an already jam-packed agenda. Food Rescue US eliminates this problem by letting users volunteer on their own schedule. You determine your own volunteering hours straight from your smartphone. If something comes up at work, there’s no going through the hassle of calling a volunteer coordinator to cancel. Instead of an awkward and apologetic phone conversation, you can just update your availability in the Food Rescue US app. It’s the difference between having to call the cab company to cancel your taxi and just pressing “cancel ride” in the Uber app. Plus, once you cancel in the app, another volunteer in the area can then take over that duty, just like an Uber driver can pick up another customer when a ride is cancelled. It’s just flat out simpler to help the local community using Food Rescue US.

This “at-will” design for volunteering proposed by Food Rescue US mimics the ride-share giant’s “drive on your own time” employment tactics. They both, of course, offer a greater flexibility, but Food Rescue US gleans an extra benefit from this attitude by empowering younger volunteers to draw a benefit often restricted to an older population. The accommodating platform allows older and younger volunteers to work together to provide an incredible service to those in need. While citizens of both older and younger generations participate in community service activities, older volunteers tend to reap greater psychological health benefits because their work provides them with a more “purposeful social role,” whereas younger volunteers often take up community service work as a requirement related to other obligations in their lives. 

For example, American parents are often required or strongly encouraged to volunteer at their children’s schools. Studies have found that this kind of obligatory volunteering lacks the benefits of more “discretionary volunteering”— or the type generally more available to the older population with more flexible schedules. Food Rescue has eliminated this problem with its at-will design that allows its users to respond to the needs of others in their community when they have the time to help, without requiring a long-term commitment or a regular schedule. This gives volunteers a unique opportunity that might not exist otherwise: Community service performed on a want to basis rather than a have to one. This opportunity gives Food Rescuers the benefit of participating in their communities in a more genuinely altruistic way, which according to recent Harvard studies, could actually help them live longer.

This flexibility also provides a unique circumstance for the huge population of older volunteers who want to help the food insecure. Even though a lot of older volunteers are retired from working traditional jobs, many of them have new constraints on their time. For example, many retired Americans dedicate time to caring for their grandchildren — a third watch their grandkids five or more days each week. Other older Americans dedicate their time to auditing courses at local universities or become highly involved with their religious community. These non-professional commitments and activities mean that Food Rescue US provides a freedom of schedule as beneficial to Boomers as it is to their younger counterparts.

Furthermore, beside being more beneficial for volunteers themselves, Food Rescue US is far more efficient than other hunger solutions. Most food banks accept expired food and specialize heavily in canned foods. This means that hungry people are being fed, but they are eating food that isn’t fresh and that is heavily processed. Food Rescue US gives the hungry access to fresher food and the same culinary preparations that would have been served to paying customers, saving room in our landfills and providing better meals for the food insecure all at once. Since restaurants produce more food waste every single day, accessing food for the hungry via Food Rescue US is sustainable indefinitely.

And just like Uber, Food Rescue US functions because it utilises our existing resources effectively. Why do people drive for Uber when they could (theoretically) make more money running their own company? It’s because they can use their own vehicle, so there’s no real start-up costs. Uber enables its drivers to use assets they already have — their cars — to reap a benefit, just like Food Rescue US does. In the case of Uber, that benefit is monetary. For Food Rescue US volunteers, the reward is a greater sense of connection and purpose within their own communities, as well as the potential of a longer, more satisfying life. In either case, all you need to get started is your smartphone, a vehicle, and your own desire.

Participating in Food Rescue US can fit in the hustle and bustle of your crazy schedule, and it will undoubtedly benefit the lives of people in your community — more than 20 million meals have been provided so far. So, how exactly does it work? You can get started now just by downloading the Food Rescue US app on your iPhone or Android or registering at foodrescue.us. There are several roles available for volunteers. If you own or manage a restaurant or grocery store, you can take on the role of food donor. Food Rescue US will help you arrange to have edible food products that would otherwise be thrown away picked up and transported to a receiving agency. You won’t have to bother with disposing of this food, and it will fill empty bellies instead of landfills.

If you have access to a car, you can become a Food Rescuer by delivering this donated food to community kitchens or food pantries. Use the app to pick delivery times that work with your schedule, and take responsibility for rescuing food from a donor in your neighborhood. This is an amazing way to make a huge difference for the food insecure in your community in as little as an hour per week. If you are already making a difference for the hungry in your community by working or volunteering with a food pantry or community kitchen, you can use Food Rescue US to indicate your organization’s food needs and have food delivered directly to you. This will provide your recipients with better, fresher, and tastier food than what you could provide without Food Rescue US.

No matter what role you are able to play in feeding hungry Americans, your participation is incredibly valuable. Food Rescue US is a platform that has the potential to transform how Americans treat food, but the program is useless without volunteers like you. Donating just a little bit of your time could make a big difference for the 12.3% of American households dealing with food insecurity. The potential to help is just a few taps away. Food Rescue US needs you to be of service to America’s hungry, and they’ve made it so simple that there is no reason not to assist those in your community who truly need access to fresh, healthy food.

American Ninja Warriors Help Fight Summer Hunger in Fairfield County

Organized by our friends at b.good restaurant Fairfield, legends from the NBC show American Ninja Warrior recently joined Food Rescue US on several food runs in an effort to combat childhood summer hunger.

Thank you Luis, Joe and Alyssa!

Molli and Steve Hourihan, the owners at b.good Fairfield restaurant have accepted the challenge and for the month of August kids will eat free, with the purchase of one adult meal. Join us at b.good on August 1st for Community Day, 5% of all proceeds will benefit Food Rescue US and you can see the premiere of the American Ninja Warrior video “Get in the Van” highlighting their day of food rescue.

“Because healthy, fresh food, is an important part of Ninja’s physical training, our Ninja customers like Allyssa and Joe are perfect advocates to help raise awareness about the availability of wasted healthy food to end childhood hunger. The ninjas will film a video of their food rescue that shows their fans first-hand what a simple solution Food Rescue US presents.” says Molli Hourihan, who along with her husband Steve, own b.good Fairfield.

“There’s nothing better than partners who respond creatively and passionately to the problems in their community and b.good Fairfield is exactly that kind of partner. Food Rescue US is so honored to be working with them to help provide for children in need over the summer. They’re an inspiration to us,” says Food Rescue US Executive Director, Kevin Mullins.

 

Are You Hungry for Summer?

When kids don’t have access to school meals during the summer, families may be unable to provide enough healthy food.

13 million children live in food insecure households, and an estimated 21 million children are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program. A family would need to find an additional 110 meals this summer just to replace food provided to one child through a school breakfast and lunch program.

With just $55 you can be part of the solution to end hunger for families this summer.

Your gift of $55 to Food Rescue US will support our work feeding children and families. $55 will allow us to rescue enough meals to feed 10 children for the entire summer. Thank you!

Give Today

Washington City Paper: Volunteer Drivers for Food Rescue US Reroute D.C.’s Excess Food to the Homeless

“In the three or four runs that I’ve done so far, they say I’ve already rescued 650 meals.”

Every Tuesday morning, Jamie Rothbard drives to Revolution Foods in Hyattsville, Maryland, to pick up excess food.  Since its inception, the D.C. group of Food Rescue US volunteers has saved 33,850 meals in the D.C. area and delivered to more than 25 community organizations. That’s 50,775 pounds of food saved.

Read the full story: Volunteer Drivers for Food Rescue US Reroute D.C. Excess Food to the Homeless via Washington City Paper

New York Times: Going Digital to Rescue Food

Wasted food. Hungry people. How do we get the two to meet?

One answer is: Create an app. Just as Airbnb connects producers and consumers of short-stay housing, and eBay connects producers and consumers of, well, everything, new apps can connect stores and restaurants with soup kitchens, pantries and shelters that need their excess food. And apps can also organize volunteers who make the deliveries by car, bike or foot power.

Organizations like Food Rescue US and Rescuing Leftover Cuisine — a new, smaller organization that sent me on the fried chicken pickup — make volunteering simple and painless. It took about a minute to sign up and get access to a calendar of food rescue tasks; I picked convenient ones and downloaded complete instructions. Mullins argues that this strategy is the only way to scale up, because it’s cheap — few staff, no trucks, no warehouse. His organization works in 11 regions and plans to be in at least 50 by the end of 2018. Dozens of other such groups exist around the country.

Read the full story: Going Digital To Rescue Food via New York Times

Food for All 2017: Benefit to End Food Insecurity in Fairfield County Presented by Whole Foods

We are thrilled to invite you to attend our signature annual fundraising event, Food for All, presented by Whole Foods Market on April 26 at 6:30 pm at Abigail Kirsch at The Loading Dock.

The event highlights our Food Rescue US goals for the coming year, celebrates our milestones, and is an important way we express our gratitude to the many volunteers and supporters who share in the desire to put an end to food insecurity in our community by rescuing food. 

Purchase Tickets

The event itself has become one of Fairfield County’s most popular annual events, featuring the hottest restaurants and artisans on the local dining scene. This year’s craft cocktail bars will be presented by the mix masters of Match, Cask Republic and Room 112. Food Rescue US is grateful for the generous sponsorship of this year’s event: Naming Sponsor Whole Foods Market, Northern Trust, MAV Foundation, Moffly Media, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, Nestle Waters, CTbites and The Elizabeth and Joseph Massoud Family Foundation.

“Every year we are able to make a larger and larger dent in Fairfield County hunger because of this fun and delicious event. This year our sights are set on raising the funds necessary to rescue and deliver 2.5 million meals and because of our game-changing hunger relief platform and the generosity of those who attend Food For All that’s a real possibility!” said Kevin Mullins, Executive Director and co-founder of Food Rescue US.

Event Details

Time: 6:30-9 PM
Location: Abigail Kirsch at The Loading Dock, 375 Fairfield Avenue, Stamford, CT 06902
Tickets: $100

Featured Restaurants

  • Abigail Kirsch
  • Bareburger
  • Broken Symmetry
  • Eggz
  • Fjord Fish Market
  • Fleisher’s Craft Kitchen
  • Fortina
  • Hapa Food Truck
  • Harlan Publick
  • India
  • Killer B
  • Mecha
  • South End
  • Village Tavern
  • Whole Foods Market

Craft Cocktail Bars

  • Match
  • Cask Republic
  • Room 112

Opportunity: Food Rescue US Office Administrator

Position

Food Rescue US is seeking a part time office administrator to work in our Norwalk office (our only office). This position provides support for the Executive Director, the organizations national sites and reports directly to the Executive Director.


Position Benefits

• Part-time salary

• Ground floor access and voice to help build a game-changing, innovative food justice platform

• Ability to work directly with Food Rescue US’s core team including our National Site Director & Executive Director

• Opportunity to see direct impact on underserved, food insecure people


Responsibilities

• Compose/edit correspondence.

• Schedule appointments and manage company’s schedule

• Answer the telephone with a pleasant and professional demeanor

• Manage incoming and outgoing mail and email

• Filing, faxing, copying, etc.

• Light bookkeeping

• Data entry into and maintenance of proprietary food rescue application

• CRM entry and maintenance

• Responsible for processing donations and gift entry

• Manages a timely donor acknowledgment process, with close attention to detail

• Provides planning support for special events, including communicating with vendors, caterers, event set-up/prep, purchasing supplies


Qualifications

• Interest in non-profit organizations, passion for the cause and desire to learning about and

supporting Food Rescue US’s mission.

• Excellent writing, editing, and proofreading skills

• Proficiency in Quickbooks

• Knowledge of: Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Twitter, Facebook

• Knowledge of HTML, WordPress, Adobe Suites and database management systems a plus

• Strong interpersonal, oral, and written communications skills

• Detail oriented and solid personal organizational skills

• Ability to manage time, balance multiple tasks, and meet deadlines

• Using web-based CRM for gift entry/processing

• Proficient with mail merge

• Ability (or willingness to learn) to generate various lists using CRM for staff support


Compensation & Time

We are looking to fill this position as soon as possible.

Compensation: $20 per hour

Time: 15-20 hours per week, schedule can be determined based on availability, some hours can be completed remotely, some set office hours.

Location: Office location in Norwalk, CT

· Application Deadline: March 3, 2017; Will review applications on a rolling basis

How to Apply: To apply, send cover letter and resume to opportunities@foodrescue.us. Please include “Office Administrator” in the subject line.

February Newsletter

We are Looking For Volunteers!

We have launched our annual Volunteer Drive across all our sites and are actively looking for volunteers to join the food rescue revolution. Food Rescuers are the bedrock of our operations and as you all know, the more we volunteers we have, the more neighbors we can feed. So if you have friends, family, colleagues, etc., who may be interested in joining us please get in touch with your local site director. We can end this problem together!


Whole Foods Market Kicks off Food for All 2017

Whole Foods Market, the Naming Sponsor for Food for All, sets the bar high for this year’s event with a generous donation of $26,589! Food Rescue US was selected as the recipient of the WFM’s 5% Day in 6 Fairfield County stores. Thanks to our volunteers who helped spread the word and customers who shopped!

Speaking of Food for All…Save the date for April 26 at the Loading Dock in Stamford, CT! Email invitation and ticket information will be available soon.


Spotlight on Columbus

Calling all bourbon drinkers – thirsty to own a piece of history? Here’s your chance! Our Columbus site received a rare, collectible bottle of 1982 O.F.C Bourbon as a donation from Buffalo Trace Distillery. There are just 50 in the country. You can own this bottle today by participating in our online auction, available only until Feb. 28!


Volunteers Share the Love

Food Rescuers across the country are celebrating the spirit of Valentine’s Day by making a donation of $47.12 – the value of 2 hours of volunteer time – in honor of someone special. We’re so grateful for our volunteers and how much they care for hungry people in the community. Thank you!


March 9: Give Where You Live

Support Food Rescue US on Fairfield County Gives Day! This one-day effort by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation inspires and empowers our community to make a difference through 24 hours of collective generosity. Last year, over $1.2 million was raised to support local causes.

 

Community Plates Becomes Food Rescue US; Launches New App

Community Plates, the volunteer driven, direct transfer, national food recovery organization,  has changed its name to Food Rescue US (FRUS) and has launched the next generation of their award winning app.  FRUS is focused on transferring healthy, usable foods to where it can feed those in need. This volunteer driven, technology fueled process coordinates with restaurants, grocers, bakeries, caterers and other food-service organizations, who have foods destined to be thrown away, and delivers the food to soup kitchens, food pantries and other hunger relief organizations serving food insecure individuals and families.

Established in 2011, Food Rescue US, specializes in large scale, grassroots, fresh food recovery resulting in equally large scale waste reduction. Currently operating in ten locations around the country, to date the organization has rescued and delivered over 16.6 million meals, saving 25 million pounds of food from landfill, at an estimated value of $42.3 million.

Executive Director, Kevin Mullins stated, “We’re excited to have a new name that better reflects our national focus and continued expansion initiative.  Through the recovery and direct transfer of fresh food, we have seen our national impact grow and intensify.  The launch of the next generation of the app is even more important as we move toward our expansion goal of 25 sites by the end of 2017.  We are actively seeking individuals and organizations to partner with us and bring FRUS to their communities. Our simple solution to ending local hunger works everywhere.”

The FRUS app, now available in the app store, is a unique, proprietary tool, allowing collaboration on an unlimited scale. The technology empowers individuals or food industry organizations, nonprofit and for profit alike,  to start a new food rescue community or expand an existing  food rescue program. Improvements include:

  • Viewing  the complete food rescue schedule through the Volunteer Food Rescuer Portal
  • Sign up for food rescues at the volunteer’s convenience
  • Following the Food Rescue Matching algorithm based on supply, demand, capacity and distance
  • Food Donors list and track their food donations through the Food Donor Portal
  • Allows the front line hunger relief organizations to list their specific needs and track the food they receive through the Receiving Agency Portal.