412 Food Rescue, as part of the Food Rescue Hero Network, celebrates 100 MILLION POUNDS OF FOOD RECOVERED this month!
That’s equivalent to half the weight of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – 10,000 elephants – or the entire Titanic!
To the team at 412 Food Rescue and our 13 other partner organizations who make up this esteemed network of food recovery organizations, it’s a huge deal. Because starting a food rescue isn’t easy. It’s wrought with an incredible amount of high touch, detail-oriented coordination and interaction.With 87% of surplus food being fresh and perishable, timely pick up to drop off is essential.
412 Food Rescue was founded on a simple belief that people are wired for good. People want to pitch in; help each other out; make a difference in their community. They just aren’t sure of HOW to start their journey.
Our team wagered that if we could coordinate food rescue pick ups near locations people visit every day, and pair them with non-profit partners close by, we might be able to create food rescue routes that would fit into a variety of everyday people’s routines. It took an incredible amount of time and determination. Thankfully, we proved ourselves right; within our first year of operation, 412 Food Rescue recruited around 100 people to volunteer, and recovered 86,000 pounds of food.
After that year, we aimed to retire our reams of spreadsheets, email lists and phone numbers by creating an app that leveraged human-centered design, making volunteering easy, richly rewarding and incredibly convenient. We knew that if we provided an elegant tech experience, with thorough, easy to understand step-by-step guidance, that we would have the potential to get volunteers to claim food rescues regularly.
We launched the Food Rescue Hero app in November of 2016 and reached 1 million pounds of food recovered by December 2016. The following year, our 500 volunteers (Food Rescue Heroes as we call them) had recovered 2 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food donated by over 190 food donation partners. Our volunteers knocked it out of the park.
Soon afterward, in partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh (HACP), 412 Food Rescue created an innovative grocery and prepared meal delivery service to residential housing areas where convenient food access did not exist. Our partners at the HACP reported receiving urgent phone calls for food every day, and welcomed this pilot. Within a few months of the pilot, HACP shared some pretty remarkable news: the emergency phone calls for food had virtually stopped.
Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we piloted our Home Delivery feature, to directly reach community members who were the most vulnerable to COVID-19. In Pittsburgh and Prince William County, Virginia, Food Rescue Heroes delivered 300,000 meals directly to the doorsteps of people experiencing food insecurity. This functionality is now available for all members of the Food Rescue Hero Network.
The ability to deliver food directly to households in need and to set up recurring rescues places our technology on par with commercial food delivery apps. Our detailed data management and reporting tools make it easy for food rescue organizations across the country to onboard new food donors, especially in light of new food waste regulations such as California’s SB 1383.
In Pittsburgh alone, 20,000+ registered Food Rescue Heroes get notifications about available food rescues every day. Nationwide, The Food Rescue Hero Network has grown this community to over 35,000. In total, these volunteer drivers have recovered 100 million pounds of food and delivered it to people who need it, delivering at a 99% service level (higher than some commercial services) and keeping these valuable resources out of landfill.
The Food Rescue Hero Network has become a beautiful, interdisciplinary food recovery ecosystem. Everyone at 412 Food Rescue is so thankful to be a part of this incredible network of food recovery organizations working towards the same goal. It is revolutionary. It is working. It is what happens when we design social services with the people we seek to serve at its center. It is what happens when we unequivocally believe in everyone’s desire to be there for others. Its potential is unmatched.
As of July 2022, we’re celebrating 100M pounds of food recovery.
Next up? We’re bringing our Food Rescue Hero Network to Pittsburgh to gather for the first time in one location to collaborate on ideas to bring this movement to 100 cities by the year 2030, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
When we meet this goal, we will have over one million Food Rescue Heroes showing up to change how food gets to people in their communities. By 2030, we will have rescued nearly 3 billion pounds of food. With the power of this many people, we will mitigate millions of pounds of carbon emissions, reversing climate change while feeding people. That is the power of using technology for good. In 2021, this world-changing idea from Pittsburgh fed one million people across North America. By 2030 we aim to feed billions.