Pittsburgh Food Rescue Nonprofit Expands Nationally


Published:

© Lou Liebau, Unsplash

In less than two years, Pittsburgh’s 412 Food Rescue has recovered over four million pounds of surplus food, recruited a fleet of over 4,000 volunteer drivers, and pioneered a more efficient and effective way to source and distribute fresh food that would otherwise end up in landfills. Now, the organization is expanding nationally. By September, it will have partnered with mission-aligned nonprofits and launched the Food Rescue Hero app in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Cleveland, and by 2020, it aims to grow to 20 cities across the U.S.

The group has developed an app called Food Rescue Hero, which allows people to volunteer spontaneously. Once they sign up, they’ll be notified when volunteer opportunities crop up nearby. Or, they can pull up a rideshare-like map at any time to view pick-ups presently available for distribution.

“We see so many articles on how to feed 10 billion [people],” says Leah Lizarondo, organization co-founder of 412 Food Rescue. “Most of them are centered on really radical interventions, such as GMOs, cloning, things like that. But none of these conversations mention, oh, by the way, if we recover all of the food that comes out of the system, we can feed everyone four times over.”

That statistic comes from a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization study, but it was another report that inspired Lizarondo, a former food writer, to action — in 2012, the Natural Resources Defense Council released Wasted, a report that detailed how 40 percent of food production ends up in landfill.

Lizarondo says the organization’s 4,000-strong volunteer force is “the largest volunteer food transport network” in the country, and over 1,000 actively pick up and distribute food.

“That was the goal of 412 Food Rescue from the very beginning: basically merging technology with social change,” she says.

Lizarondo, who immigrated to America at the age of 27 from the Philippines, worked in advertising for Colgate Palmolive in New York before moving to Pittsburgh to earn her master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University. Around the time she read the NRDC study, she says she spoke with a friend who worked at a bakery chain who was sickened that her job required her to throw out day-old bread. She was also inspired by her friend and eventual co-founder, Gisele Fetterman, who would pick up excess produce at a nearby Costco and distribute it at the Free Store she founded in nearby Braddock, Pennsylvania.

Today, 412 Rescue has connections with the local Trader Joe’s, Costco, Whole Foods, Brueggers, and Giant Eagle grocery stores, as well as other bakeries and food outlets. Food Rescue volunteers make about 350 pre-scheduled pickups with these and other recurring partners weekly. The other 25 percent of the nonprofit’s pickups are unscheduled, like last month, when National Cheese Society Conference came to Pittsburgh and concluded with extra wares.  

Lizarondo says that because so much fresh food at grocery stores are short-dated, or close to peak ripeness, most pantries don’t have the capacity to retrieve, warehouse, and distribute such produce in a short period of time. For example, Food Rescue recently rescued a truckload of grapes rejected solely because they were mislabeled. Typically, this fresh, healthy food would end up in a landfill.

These and other experiences have taught them that traditional food pantries just aren’t set up to handle bulk fresh produce, and they are not always the best way to distribute food either.

“The pantry network, while necessary, is not nearly sufficient in terms of getting food to people,” says Lizarondo. “Why not bring food to where folks are already accessing services as part of daily lives?”

Presently they distribute at 80 percent of Housing Authority sites in the city of Pittsburgh as well as senior centers, daycare centers, and other nonprofit distribution centers where people live or visit daily. According to third-party research, the group has improved food security in 88 percent of the population they reach.

“It took 21 months to reach one million pounds,” Lizarondo says. “Nine months to 2 million, then six months to three million. This is, to me, an example of one of the highest uses of technology we can have, because it’s actually doing good and it’s extremely direct.”

On Aug. 7, the group hit four million pounds. Originally launched in March 2015 as an informal network of friends connected by Facebook and text messaging, Lizarondo and her team launched their app in November 2016. To date, their worth is about $1.7 million, and they have received funding from the Heinz Endowments and other foundations and nonprofits. Former Pittsburgh Pirates superstar, Andrew McCutchen, donated a box truck.

Lizarondo estimates that she has received 300 emails inquiring about partnerships or licensing their technology, but until now, she has waited because she has wanted to make sure that they are turning over the tech to established nonprofits who have the connections and wherewithal to focus and scale.

In San Francisco, 412 Food Rescue has partnered with Food Runners, a 31-year old food rescue organization, and in Cleveland, with the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland. In Philadelphia, the group has partnered with Uplift, a nonprofit founded in 2009 whose stated goal is to end food deserts across the U.S. Uplift’s executive director, Atif Bostic, says that his group is in discussions with the Philadelphia Housing Authority as well as local police and parks and recreation department to set up distribution sites for rescued food.

“When we look at the stats, more than 326 thousand people are classified as hungry in Philadelphia,” Bostic says. “We look to, over next year or two, to make a significant impact and at some point eradicate hunger in Philadelphia.”

Beyond the app, 412 Food Rescue also runs an “ugly CSA” program for blemished food, as well as Hidden Harvest, which retrieves fresh fruit from unharvested trees, orchards, and farms. On August 9, Pittsburgh-based East End Brewery released an IPA brewed with Hidden Harvest’s berries and cherries, to raise awareness and funds for 412 Food Rescue.

Before long, ordinary citizens everywhere will be able to transform, at the push of a button, into a food rescue hero.

“The U.N. has a goal to cut food waste 50 percent by 2030,” says Lizarondo. “I can’t quite think that far ahead yet… but I can say, if we really harness what we learn this year, we’ll be able to launch it in twenty cities by 2020.”

Brian Conway is a Pittsburgh-based freelance reporter. His investigations into the full extent of Pittsburgh’s lead in water crisis earned him First Prize for Environmental Reporting from the Keystone Chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists in their statewide spotlight contest. He also serves as membership chair of the Work Hard Pittsburgh digital media cooperative.

This article was republished from Shareable.

See also:
These 3 Grassroots Movements Are Bringing People Together Through Food
Resolve To Become A Food Waste Warrior In 2018

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

April 21, 2019

The first half of the day is picture perfect lazy, ideal for relaxing at home or if the weather is nice, taking a leisurely stroll or drive. The Scorpio Moon is void of course, which explains the lack of initiative or need for a clear destination…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

April 2019

No Events

2nd and 4th Monday of every month This psychic message circle is for anyone wishing to raise their connection using their psychic centers known as the “clairs.” Learn how to use your...

Cost: $20

Where:
Messages From Heaven Healing and Learning Center
646 Central Street
Suite 3
Leominster, MA
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This bill would require licensure for more than 100 holistic healing modalities under the broad definition of “bodyworks" it contains — “Bodywork”,...

Where:
Massachusetts State House, Room 222
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA
View map »


Contact Name: Rita Glassman

More information

Dreams are a psychic experience that everyone has. They have always fascinated people from the ancient world to the modern. In this class we will explore the power of dreams, how to use them to...

Cost: $30

Where:
Moth and Moon Studio
173 South River Road
Suite #4
Bedford, NH  03110
View map »


Sponsor: Moth and Moon Studio
Telephone: 603-782-3674
Contact Name: Danielle Dionne
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The symptoms may vary, but most women go through some physical and emotional changes during menopause that can range from mild to severe to downright debilitating. This class will explore why these...

Cost: $20

Where:
Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing
411 West Main Street, Suite 2R (rear of building)
Northborough, MA  01532
View map »


Sponsor: Open Circle Acupuncture & Healing
Telephone: 508-393-1212
Website »

More information

With Jonathan Glass, Ayurvedic practitioner. Presenting a 28-day program designed to initiate and maximize detoxification and nourishment of your body, mind and soul, inspiring results that can...

Where:
Concord, MA


Website »

More information

Discover how you can release tight muscles and improve range of motion in locked joints in a weekly ESSENTRICS stretch classes led by Raindrop Fisher, certified Essentrics instructor. Raindrop is a...

Cost: $10 drop-in / $100 for 12 classes

Where:
Village at Waterman Lake
Function Room - Chalet Bldg
715 Putnam Pike
Greenville, RI  02828
View map »


Sponsor: Healthier Fit Lifestyle
Telephone: 401-678-0950
Contact Name: Raindrop Fisher
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Reserve these Rally dates: March 28, April 11, Apr 25 Please join one or more of the Health Freedom Action Massachusetts (HFAMA) three Thursday rally days March 28, April 11 and April 25 at the...

Where:
Statehouse
Room 348
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA  02133
View map »


Website »

More information

Anxiety can be an overwhelming experience, but it is rooted in primal logic. In this Neurosculpting workshop you will learn why your brain does what it does and how to rewire your subconscious...

Cost: $40—2 hours

Where:
BrainHckr @ Union Wellness
64 Union Square
Somerville, MA
View map »


Sponsor: BrainHckr
Telephone: 617-821-5560
Contact Name: Katie DiChiara
Website »

More information

In a time of deep divisiveness in our country, how do we remain true to our principles and also hold a spiritual commitment to loving our neighbors, even if they hold vastly different...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Heart’s Journey
196 Pleasant Street Suite 302
Northampton, MA  01060
View map »


Sponsor: The Heart's Journey
Telephone: 413-687-9951
Contact Name: Abriete Medore
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

What is Post-Traumatic Growth?    Who are you beyond the pain and trauma? Is it possible to befriend your old "stuff"? Experience how to create an energetic...

Cost: $45

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-867-3969,
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Join me for this special event at my new space! Sound Journeying is an accessible way to explore meditation, relaxation and all the spaces in-between. Our soundscape will be created by Himalayan...

Cost: $20

Where:
Sri Healing Arts
464 Marlboro Rd.
Brattleboro, VT  05301
View map »


Sponsor: Sri Healing Arts
Contact Name: Sher Levesque
Website »

More information

 April 26–28, 2019 World Qigong Taichi Day is a day of free presentations, demonstrations and mini-classes offered by nationally recognized leaders of Taichi, Qigong, Chinese...

Cost: Free

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Website »

More information

April 26–28 Intuition + Energy Medicine + Energy Psychology = The REAP Healing Method This weekend intensive certification training course provides you with the understanding and the...

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Center
176 Jackson Road
Devens, MA  01434
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

April 27–28 9:00am–5:30pm each day Taught by Leontine Hartzell Learn unique powerful healing methods of using multiple frequencies of light, vibration, sound, tone, sacred...

Cost: $375, early bird discount by March 1: $325 for Level I

Where:
Eye of the Eagle Center, private oceanside home
45 minutes north of Boston by rail or road
Gloucester, MA  01930
View map »


Sponsor: Leontine Hartzell
Telephone: 978-377-8948
Contact Name: Leontine Hartzell
Website »

More information

“Consciousness does not just passively reflect the objective material world; it plays an active role in creating reality itself.” — Stanislav Grof MD, from The Holotropic Mind...

Cost: $150, $175 after April 20th (see below for tickets)

Where:
First Congregational Church
43 Silver Street
Greenfield, MA  01301
View map »


Sponsor: Allen Howell, M.Ed. LMHC and Ellen Wolfe MS HTR
Website »

More information

Returning to the seacoast area for another delightful day to help support the Franco American Centre! Psychic readings, energy healing, marketplace and a great raffle! Free general...

Cost: Free general admission

Where:
The Hampton Inn & Suites
59 Portsmouth Ave.
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: Awakening Moments with Angie
Telephone: 603 321-4818
Contact Name: Angie D'Anjou
Website »

More information

With Nancy Smith Starts Saturday, April 27, 2019 Learn to anchor into the Akashic Energy of Creation through meditation and prayer. Open to the Akashic energy and the records of the universe...

Cost: $860 (Early Bird $770)

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Join us for our wellness fair at state of grace yoga. Mini-yoga classes and chair massage, Reiki and energy work, art, jewelry, beautiful retail shop, vendors. Revitalize yourself! More...

Cost: $10 donation for charity

Where:
State of Grace Yoga
Uxbridge, MA


Website »

More information

Instructor: Lisa Abbate, CHt Adult Level Embrace your goals and dreams and take action! Give yourself permission to want what your heart desires!  Afterall, there is no...

Cost: $85

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Spirit
Telephone: 781-797-0389
Website »

More information

Join in World Tai Chi & Qigong Day! Last Saturday of April each year at 10am worldwide. Hundreds of cities spanning 80 nations come together, to breathe together and provide a healing vision...

Cost: Free

Where:
Elm Park
Russell Street
Worcester, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy of New England
Telephone: 774-321-6611
Contact Name: Sifu Gary
Website »

More information

In conjuction with the release of his new video series on Yoga Anytime, Internationally recognized instructor Robert Sidoti takes the concept of his latest yoga program off the screen and into the...

Cost: $40.00 in advance. $45 at door (if space is available)

Where:
KJ Fitness
1565 Main Street Unit D
Tewksbury, MA  01876
View map »


Sponsor: Relax and Recharge with Chuck
Contact Name: Chuck Raffoni
Website »

More information

Mediumship and card readings, $20 for 15 minutes, tuning forks and energy healing with Jeanne Perrault Proprietor—The Yoga Mat of Methuen, MA. Vendors include: homemade soaps, oils,...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rte 3A
Billerica, MA  01801
View map »


Sponsor: Spiritualist Fellowship Church of New England
Telephone: 781-287-9754
Contact Name: Chris
Website »

More information

Saturday, April 27, 10:30am–6:00pm and Sunday, April 28, 10:30am–5:30pm Dig at the roots of habits to weed out addictive habits and discover a deeper purpose in your life. with...

Cost: $295 early bird if paid by March 22nd ($325 after)

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-867-3969
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

With Trish Whynot, D.C.Ed.  Our goal for Mindful Goddess Retreats is to connect like-minded women with each other and with presenters who delight in the opportunity to expand your...

Cost: $149, $10 lunch voucher included

Where:
51 S. Main St.
Concord, NH
View map »


Telephone: (978) 314-4545
Contact Name: Trish Whynot, D.C.Ed.
Website »

More information

Eclectic-Fest is a day of celebration of creativity and spirituality. We have gathered some the most diverse vendors in the area to provide you with a great selection of good to bring home...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Taunton V.F.W.
82 Ingell Street
Taunton, MA  02780
View map »


Sponsor: Brother Granite
Telephone: 774-208-6195
Contact Name: Brother Granite

More information

6 weekends to become deeply connected to herbal medicine, food as medicine, product making, your health and more. $1395 includes lunch, field trips, herbal preparations, health coaching sessions...

Cost: $1395

Where:
, VT


Telephone: (802) 249-7551
Contact Name: Marie
Website »

More information

The 2019 Apprenticeship Program begins April 27 and meets one weekend a month through October. Students get hands-on experience making tinctures, teas, salves, oils, herbal sprays, and flower...

Where:
The Boston School of Herbal Studies
12 Pelham Terrace
Arlington, MA  02376
View map »


Sponsor: The Boston School of Herbal Studies
Telephone: 781-646-6319
Website »

More information

April 27–28 Join other like-minded seekers as we take a journey through the concepts of the new Earth paradigm, higher self and soul sovereignty, ascension mechanics, and spiritual alchemy.

Where:
Derry, NH


Telephone: (617) 366-6042
Website »

More information

Beginner Class: 4/27 (6:00-10:00 pm), 4/29 (7:00-10:00 pm), 4/30 (7:00-10:00 pm) Intermediate Class: 5/1, 5/2, 5/3 (7:00 – 10:00 pm) Tuition: None, but donation is appreciated for...

Where:
16 South Road
Bedford, MA  01730
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags