In Pittsburgh, 412 Food Rescue prevents perfectly good food from going to waste. They were nominated for Excellence in Collective Impact during the 2021 GPNP Annual Meeting due to their ability to galvanize and mobilize the community around common goals.
They responded to the additional layers of food insecurity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by creating a new program called Home Delivery. The organization created a system that delivers food within a 15-minute walk of 182,886 of the most vulnerable people living in poverty to improve convenience, access, and proximity. Ninety percent of Pittsburghers who receive its packages report improved food security, and 92% say it helps them make ends meet.
The nonprofit also added functions to its Food Rescue Hero app, launched in 2016, that enabled volunteers to make food deliveries directly to the doorsteps of food insecure individuals and families. It matches food donations to the appropriate nonprofits, coordinates a last-mile transportation network of volunteers, trains volunteers on food safety, and tracks data and analytics—measuring the impact on hunger and the environment. Previously, volunteers had used the app to deliver food to local nonprofits, housing sites, and other groups that serve people experiencing food insecurity directly.
Volunteers, all of whom completed background checks, took food to the elderly and people with disabilities, and groups urged to avoid exposure because many are particularly vulnerable to COVID. In addition, volunteers delivered to people living below the poverty line, many of whom do not have access to cars to take them to grocery stores or food banks. Volunteers in the Home Delivery program transported more than 320,000 pounds of food, much of it fresh food such as produce, to approximately 3,000 households.
As part of an ongoing effort, 412 has also been adding information about the environmental impact of food waste to their programs. Specific areas of engagement include the impact of food waste on water systems, as well as the importance of limiting landfill waste and centering environmental impact in their work.
In fact, they started the Good Food Project in Millvale which consists of two hunger relief programs – one space-based program and one kitchen created due to recognition that donors provided some food that was not getting to those who needed it in a timely manner. They transform surplus foods into healthy, heat-and-eat meals and groceries distributed to our neighbors experiencing food insecurity with a very quick turnaround.
In response to large volume donations 412 Food Rescue’s non-profit partners struggled to receive, the Good Food Project (GFP) was born in 2019. Currently helmed by Chef Greg Austin, GFP stabilizes and transforms surplus food into healthy, frozen meals. These meals follow the MyPlate model as a guide in creating a wholesome good that is served with dignity. Each meal is housed in compostable packing and rescues good food from otherwise ending up in landfills.
You can get involved by volunteering in one of their programs today! See a full list of opportunities with provided services here; get out in the community, prevent waste, and support your neighbors.