We have much to be thankful for over the past year, for the incredible impact on the Pittsburgh community has only been made possible thanks to our amazing food donors, nonprofit partners, funders, supporters, and volunteers.
As we transitioned away from the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and said goodbye to our Co-Founder and CEO Leah Lizarondo, in 2023, 412 Food Rescue entered into an intentional process to evaluate and strengthen our internal structures to prepare the foundation for our next phase of growth. This behind-the-scenes effort to reorganize the pillars of operations, strengthen connection, and construct streamlined processes is rooted in creating that force of energy to launch us towards capturing more food locally, providing a solid service value, and more efficiently battling food insecurity.
However, this focus on efficacy and system did not stop our fleet and volunteer network from collectively rescuing 4,387,523 pounds of food in 2023! Our cumulative impact has now reached 30.5 million pounds since 2015.
4.4 million pounds
786 food donors
2,687 app registrations
In 2023, we welcomed several talented individuals to the 412 Food Rescue team.
We hired a talented & experienced logistics professional, Kristie Abercrombie, for the role of Director of Logistics, who brought years of dispatch and fleet management experience with companies like Amazon and UPS to streamline and professionalize our fleet operations. Her direction and skill led that team to collect 1,702,355 pounds of food this year, and upskill each of those operators and dispatchers to increase efficiency and craft and more supportive operations for staff, volunteers, and partners.
“We strive to ensure that our neighbors who are struggling are being heard, helped, fed, and treated with respect. If there is a hand reaching out, we want them to know that we are here and ready to help.”
– Logan Laizure, Lead Dispatch Coordinator
To tie our food donor and nonprofit partner teams together and have relationship management under a single direction, Mohamad Shouman stepped in as Director of Distribution Relationships to create a guiding force for those efforts and impact, where they can all work together and support each other on both ends of the mission. Mohamad brings a deep history of sales experience and years of leading international food relief efforts. This unique synergy with the mission of 412 Food Rescue primes that team for a year of opportunity in 2024. With this fortified emphasis on the nucleus of our operations and an entire staff of seasoned individuals, with Leland Scales managing nonprofit partner relationships and the influx of energized talent with Rebecca Simon managing donor relationships, they are roaring in 2024 with a purpose.
New staff were not solely outside hires; it was also a year of internal growth. 2023, 40 Under 40 recipient, Greg Austin, stepped out from the Good Food Project kitchen and into the role of Director of Initiatives. He has brought his proven track record of creating effective programs that deliver a valuable service to our other initiatives, the Home Delivery and Grocery Bagging Program while continuing to provide direction to the Good Food Project. Looking ahead to 2024, we are very excited to anticipate the return of dormant programming under his expertise and a keen eye for creating a holistic experience.
412 Food Rescue Operations came under common leadership with Josh Weiland stepping into the role of Vice President of Operations. He brings years of non-profit program leadership and people management experience to the role. In 2023 he accepted a Humanitarian of the Year award from the Islamic Center of PIttsburgh and played a key role in leading the re-organization. His value centered approach paired with his strategic vision aspires to uplift and drive staff to craft the best possible method in service to the mission.
Each year we are reminded at this time of the deeply compassionate and generous nature of the network of dedicated volunteers. Out of a network of over 22,000 volunteers, 1,152 helped secure, transport and deliver 2,685,168 pounds of food in 2023.
“I am so happy to be back after two weeks off–I missed it! The staff at Georgies is some of the kindest people I have ever met, and the staff at Kingsley always light up when they see that it’s a bakery delivery & have a little cheer for the donation. I appreciate the work 412 Food Rescue does and happy to be a part of it.”
– Katie Lemon, Volunteer
Volunteers remain the key to our viability and impact–they form a dedicated troop, through rain or shine, to combat food insecurity. Their persistent efforts are the expression of a society that can act as an uplifting force weaving a tight fabric of support and community. Making an impacttheir thousands of individual acts of service are what create millions of pounds of impact. It is with sincere reverence this staff is provided the opportunity to witness their collective action.
Home Delivery Program
The end of 2023 marks the two-and-a-half year anniversary of our Home Delivery program. As of this fall, the program has successfully delivered almost 300,000 meals to Pittsburgh neighbors experiencing food insecurity. From a place of thoughtful reflection, we’d like to take this opportunity to extend a heartfelt thank you to our volunteers.
Since its launch in June of 2021, the Home Delivery program has grown in partners, households, and understanding. Currently, we partner with 27 food donors to distribute fresh food to nearly 200 households every month. We know that this work never could have reached this important impact without the dedication, generosity and kindness shown by our incredible volunteers.
“I claimed a Home Delivery nearby and ended up delivering food to three homes in my neighborhood. My neighbors, so close to me, were dealing with food insecurity. It wasn’t like you always think, that hunger is something that affects people far away. Hunger is right here in MY neighborhood. That’s just not right.”
– #FoodRescueHero Jared
Good Food Project
As many of you know, a fire at the beginning of 2023 forced us out of our beloved space, and we found ourselves temporarily displaced for the majority of the year.
The program reopened at a temporary location in June, continuing to operate four days a week preparing meals from bulk donations.
A special note of gratitude goes out to our temporary hosts during this transitional period: Allegheny Health Network’s Suburban Campus in Bellevue and Christ Lutheran Church in Millvale. Your generosity and support provided us with a safe haven and allowed our essential programs to continue serving the community without extended misfortune.
As of December, we are happy to resume Good Food Project operations in its home at the Millvale Food & Energy Hub!
City Paper's Best of Pittsburgh
Looking ahead to 2024
We’re very excited to already have some exciting plans in progress for 2024:
- UglyCSA will return this summer, offering subscriptions shares of produce from local farms. For 12 weeks during peak growing season (July–October), UglyCSA subscribers receive a weekly bag of locally sourced produce. Purchasing just one share saves approximately 180 lbs of good food and 2,450 gallons of water, equivalent to enough drinking water for 13 people for an entire year!
- Hidden Harvest, our urban gleaning program, returns after a hiatus since 2020. By harvesting fruits and vegetables from public and privately owned trees, orchards, farms, and gardens, volunteer groups harvest produce that would otherwise go to waste and redistribute it to nonprofits that serve those who are experiencing food insecurity. A percentage of the harvests, mostly inedible fruits, are earmarked for the production of innovative, value-added product partnerships with local businesses, including Wigle Whiskey, Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream, Spring Hill Brewing, East End Brewing Co., and Threadbare Cider and Mead. These limited edition product innovations serve to further our mission to end hunger and end food waste.
- 412 Food Rescue is currently in the midst of a search for a new CEO, as Karin Sabey joined the organization in early 2023 as acting Interim CEO to assist in the transition from Leah Lizarondo, co-founder and former CEO, leaving the organization at the end of 2022.
2024 promises to be full of excitement, challenge and possibility. As we look to welcome our new CEO, continually explore the creation of a true value to our community, attract and grow talented and dedicated individuals and become a lighthouse operation, we are thankful to call Pittsburgh our city and be amongst its incredible residents.
From all of us at 412 Food Rescue
We could not have this monumental impact without your continued support.