By Kim Robson:
The very serious topic of food waste has been covered here on Green-Mom several times, from the Inglorious Foods campaign in France, to the Hidden Harvest movement in California, to the Food Waste Challenge in New York City.
Wasted food is a worldwide problem, and the global population is only expected to grow, adding to the challenge of global food security. In the United States alone, we throw out a shocking $165 billion dollars’ worth of food every year, all while one in seven Americans goes hungry.
Once again, New Yorkers are stepping up to the fight to reduce food waste. A nonprofit organization there called Rescuing Leftover Cuisine is retrieving hundreds of pounds of perfectly edible leftover food from local restaurants, and distributing it to the homeless population.
New York University graduates Robert Lee and Louisa Chen founded Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC) in 2013. While attending university, Lee and Chen found their calling and the inspiration for RLC while volunteering for Two Birds, One Stone. The organization scavenged extra food that would have gone into the trash from university dining halls and delivered it to homeless shelters. Their childhood upbringing by Korean immigrant parents led them to embrace a zero waste, thrifty lifestyle.
These experiences inspired Lee and Chen to continue this work after graduation, scaling up their food recovery model, with a goal of bringing it to restaurants all over New York City and ultimately all of the United States.
In addition to rescuing food from local restaurants and cafés, RLC compiles data on everything they rescue and shares that data with restaurant owners who use it to better manage their food waste and streamline the donation process. The organization is also helping restaurants further streamline food donations by using smartphone apps to alert RLC rescuers when food is available to donate so it can be picked up as quickly as possible.
In its mission statement, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine hopes to expand its model into a worldwide movement:
“The mission of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine is to become the world’s most widely used solution for companies and individuals to eliminate food waste in their communities, making food rescue sustainable and universal, and food hunger a thing of the past.”
To date, RLC has rescued over 10,000 pounds of food and delivered it amongst the homeless. They have accomplished this at a cost of only 10 cents per pound, one of the thriftiest records in the newly emerging fight against food waste. Other cities already are taking notice, with new chapters springing up in San Francisco, Albany, Miami and Los Angeles using RLC’s nonprofit model. Want to help divert good food to folks who desperately need it? You can donate food or funds, or you can volunteer your time , even your car!