Generally speaking, nonprofits are founded for the purpose of addressing an unmet need. When they are run well, they focus on one mission and work to correct the problem. 412 Food Rescue has found a way to do more, in a uniquely visionary way. In fact, 412 Food Rescue actually works to correct three pretty major issue in our world with one simple, but brilliant, idea.
Even with the push in recent years to develop environmental consciousness and increase recycling, we still live in a society in which far too many things are disposed of too easily. We churn through things. We don’t use what we buy. We throw away things when they are broken instead of figuring out how to fix them. We just move on to the next thing, often without much thoughts about the cost.
When it comes to food, the statistics that 412 Food Rescue shares on their website are pretty staggering. Here in the U.S., 15% of the population is hungry. 40% of the food production in our world ends up being thrown away. When all the numbers are added up, they equate to 20 pounds of food person, per month that is being wasted. Isn’t that a disconnect? Isn’t there something wrong here? The founders of 412 Food Rescue, Leah Lizarando and Gisele Fetterman sure believed so. And they figured out an amazing way to bridge that gap.
A lot of the success of 412 Food Rescue seems to rest in their unique ability to create partnerships and connections in three different directions. They have built relationships with restaurants, grocery stores, caterers, and wholesale suppliers who reach out to 412 Food Rescue when they have a surplus, leftovers, or the food on the shelves is nearing it’s sell-by date. 412 Food Rescue then gives that food to local nonprofits, community centers, and even local housing authorities serving people who for whom food (especially fresh, perishable food) can be scarce.
Transporting things from point A to point B is where things really get cool. While 412 Food Rescue does have a refrigerator truck that can handle some of the larger pick ups and deliveries, most of the food transportation is handled by volunteers, or as 412 Food Rescue calls them, Food Rescue Heroes.
These connections are made primarily through an amazing app that I’d encourage you to download at the App Store or on Google Play by typing in 412 Food Rescue in the search bar. Sometimes there are consistent daily or weekly pick ups, but often there is a new situation that will pop up, and it is important to get that food to the people who need it while it is still fresh. W?hen you are signed up on the app to be a Hero, you will be notified when there is a waiting food donation in your area. If you can pick it up and get it where it needs to go, you simply claim it via the app and make the delivery. If it won’t fit your schedule, you can leave it for someone else to scoop up.
This is a really amazing way to volunteer. No huge, long-term commitments (unless you’d like it to be). If you have a free hour today, you can volunteer. You do what you can, when you can. The hope is that there will be enough people just like you, wanting to help end things like food wast, hunger, and the environmental toll of trashing usable food, that all needs will be met.
I really can’t commend this organization enough. They are an amazing example of creative problem solving; finding a way to solve multiple problems with one fell swoop. In fact, things have gone so well with 412 Food Rescue here in Allegheny County that 724 Food Rescue is in the works to address some of these same problems in the rest of the Pittsburgh metro area. Please reach out if you live in one of the surrounding counties and would like to help too.