We’ve been telling the story for a while now about what Community Plate’s technology-fueled, direct-transfer food rescue platform looks like but today I’ve been reflecting on what this type of food rescue isn’t. Sometimes you can get clearer on what something is but finding out what it is not.
Direct-transfer food rescue isn’t just your good deed for the week or a random act of kindness. Save those for when you let someone cut you off in traffic without trying to ram them from behind or tell them that they’re number one. Food rescue is an intentional act of concern for your neighbors. Although it’s simple enough to do, it takes intentionality to check in regularly to see the opportunities to transfer food from where it would be wasted to where it can fill someone’s stomach or pantry. It takes intentionality to make sure your car has been cleaned out and the car seats moved in order to make room for 9 bins of fresh produce. It takes intentionality to look outside the confines of your busy life to notice that not everyone in America is doing so great. There’s nothing random about it and it’s more than just a good deed…it’s a life altering activity, both for the one doing the transfer and the ones who benefit from the food transferred.
Direct-transfer food rescue powered by technology isn’t business as usual in the food rescue arena. People have been concerned about food waste for a long time and there are many great organizations who have done great work in trying to make sure that waste is eliminated for the benefit of those in need. Technology now allows us to make the food rescue process more efficient than ever and most importantly gives us direct and seamless access to America’s most precious natural resource…passionate, concerned, generous people. The direct-transfer part of the equation means that overhead stays low by eliminating warehouses, trucks and employees and most importantly that more fresh food gets to where it’s needed in time to actually make into a meal. Most importantly direct-transfer means that more and more people (by the hundreds now and soon by the thousands) are connected in a real way to their communities; spending time with food-donors, those who receive and distribute the food and sometimes even those who will be eating the food.
Technology-fueled, direct-transfer food rescue is not a volunteering fad. It might have been if our food runners had not rescued the equivalent of 750,000 meals in our first year. It might have been if we hadn’t heard the happy stories from our receiving agencies about declining food-budgets (when they need it most) and their grateful clients raving about receiving a greater variety of food of higher quality than they would normally would have had access to. It might have been if we hadn’t realized somewhere along the way that the fresh foods our food runners transfer can make a major dent in obesity and of course a corresponding dent in diabetes. It might have just been a fad if we hadn’t become aware of just how great the need is and more importantly just how many people are willing to join this cause and end American food insecurity.
What else is food-rescue not?