Mission: To prevent perfectly good food from entering the waste stream.
Background: Americans waste 62.5 million tons of food a year and spend $218 billion (or 1.3 percent of GDP) annually in "growing, processing, transporting, and disposing of food that is never eaten." Founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 2015 by Leah Lizarondo and Gisele Fetterman in response to the disconnect between food waste, hunger, and environmental sustainability, 412 Food Rescue began as a program that "rescued" surplus food from local grocery stores and in the three years since has expanded its outreach to include food warehouses, caterers, restaurants, universities, movie sets, airports, farms, and other food providers. The organization's primary activity is to redirect unsellable but fresh, healthy, viable food to individuals who are food insecure by retrieving and delivering it using its own trucks as well as volunteers who use their cars (or bikes) to pick up and transport food from donors to the organization's nonprofit partners, thereby reducing the waste management costs and carbon footprint of its donor partners' operations. The organization currently serves communities across Allegheny County — from soup kitchens, to school backpack programs, to nonprofits that serve those who are food insecure — but is looking to replicate elements of its model nationally.
Outstanding Web Features: One of the key components of the 412 Food Rescue model is the organization's technology platform, also known as "Food Rescue Hero," an end-to-end system that matches food donations to the appropriate nonprofits, coordinates a last-mile transportation network of volunteers, trains volunteers with respect to food safety, and tracks data and analytics–measuring impact on hunger and the environment. The Food Rescue Hero app (iOS and Android) was launched in 2016 and provides a simple, intuitive tool for volunteers willing to transport food from food donors to the organization's nonprofit partners. Once a match between a food donation and a nonprofit is made, the app alerts volunteers, enabling them to view it and other nearby "rescue" opportunities and opt for one that works for them. The app then guides the volunteer through the rescue, providing built-in navigation and delivery verification when he or she completes the rescue. The 412 Food Rescue site also provides other programs related to food recovery, including UglyCSA, which creates new markets for produce that has been deemed unsellable because it does not meet cosmetic standards; the Hidden Harvest program, which gleans fruits and vegetables from public and privately owned orchards, farms, and gardens and delivers that "harvest" to its nonprofits partners; a food education program; and a product innovation program that creates products from food that would otherwise be wasted. Vitiors to the the site can also sign up to donate food; receive food; and/or become a #FoodRescueHero volunteer.