This summer, Oliver Kaufman of Stamford, Connecticut, set a new record for Food Rescue US volunteers – 1,000 rescues! We reached out to Oliver to hear more about his years of rescuing food and the insights he has gleaned in the process.
Q: Congratulations on 1,000 rescues! How long have you been a volunteer with Food Rescue US?
A: Thank you. I started volunteering with Food Rescue US about 5 years ago. I rescue food from quite a few different places around Stamford, and have regular pickups most days of the week. I’m not doing it for the record, but it was fun when they told me I’d hit one thousand rescues.
Q: What motivates you to do this work?
A: I’ve always been one to volunteer, and when my kids were little, I did it to show them how we can impact our community. It’s much easier to write a check, but I’d rather be there and help with my own hands, so to speak. It gives me a smile when I drop off the food at the soup kitchen or the homeless shelter or some other agency. I get big thank yous, especially since we’re giving them such nutritious food like fruits, vegetables, and prepared meals. It’s not another box of pasta or can of beans.
Q: How do you fit so many rescues into your schedule?
A: I work in sales so during the week I have a flexible schedule. Since my kids are in their mid 20’s, my weekends are relatively free. If I didn’t do all my pickups, I’d just be sitting on the couch eating bonbons. I love the flexibility you get with Food Rescue US. You’re not committing several hours at a time, which you are with most other volunteer opportunities. You do it when you can. If you have extra time, you open the app, see that there’s something tomorrow at 10:00 AM or 3:00 PM and you pick it up if you’ve got a spare 32 minutes or so.
Q: What’s the most interesting or unusual rescue that you’ve done?
A: I was doing the rescue at Whole Foods one day and I asked what happened to all the prepared foods from the salad bar and deli. So they pointed me to the Prepared Foods Manager and I told him what Food Rescue US does. And I’ll never forget when he said to me, “Oliver, I’ve been looking for you for years. I hate how much food I throw out every day.” And now we get prepared foods from this Whole Foods seven days a week. I started keeping count of how many rotisserie chickens and sushi I’d pick up. My record is 61 chickens and 71 sushi rolls. My goal though is truffles, wagyu beef and caviar. You have to have goals!
What do you wish other people knew about food rescue?
A: I think people have no idea how much food waste there is. They also don’t realize that roughly one in six kids are food insecure. So I say to people, if your kid was in class, look at two kids to the right, two kids to the left. One of those is probably food insecure. When kids are hungry, they can’t concentrate in class. And to me that’s the mic drop.
We extend our heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Oliver on his 1,000 (and counting) rescues! Are you or another volunteer you know close to hitting a rescue milestone? Did you just complete your first rescue? Your 15th or 100th? Share a photo on Instagram and tag @foodrescueus so we can celebrate you, too!