Meet Rebecca Maclean – longtime #FoodRescueHero and an around awesome human.
How did you first learn about 412 Food Rescue?
We’ve known crazy genius Leah Lizarondo for several years, we met through mutual friends and also crossed paths when the farm in Stanton Heights had an active work share CSA program. Leah and I have similar nerd/policy wonk interests, and riffed off each other regularly when I was writing about pink slime, food deserts, and other food policy topics online. We were one of the early supporters of the venture that turned into 412 Food Rescue; I remember harassing her on Facebook, asking her to let me pick food up and give it a try.
Why did you decide to become a #FoodRescueHero?
We volunteer for lots of reasons. Our family has young kids and had been looking for ways to stay active in the community with them. We volunteer because it’s easy – it doesn’t take long to do a pickup, there are food runs with pickups and dropoffs near our home, and most pickups fit in our van (we’ve squeezed a few into our old Honda Civic too). And we are continually amazed at how much food goes to waste. It’s one thing to hear the 40% of food is wasted statistic; it’s another thing to fill your entire vehicle with perfectly edible castoffs from the grocery store on a regular basis and know that there are lots of other places that are throwing similar things away at the exact same time.
What do your rescues typically look like?
Our family has a regularly scheduled food run between Whole Foods and Lawrenceville United, Dan (left)was featured in Pittsburgh Magazine recently doing the run. He’s the one who usually does it on Fridays at lunchtime since he has a flexible schedule. I also work from home that day and can do it on my lunch hour if he’s unavailable. We live in Highland Park, so it’s a quick drive to East Liberty, load up the van, drive to Lawrenceville and drop off, and there’s still enough time left in the lunch hour to grab a sandwich to go on Butler Street before heading back home.
We’ve also done early morning bread pickups for elementary school backpack programs, weekend pickups of conference boxed lunch leftovers, trays of fried chicken and corn from a company picnic, you name it. I’ve only gotten rescues through the app a couple of times, though, because people are so fast claiming them!
Has there been a highlight or a favorite moment since you started rescuing food with us?
The Whole Foods/Lawrenceville United food ends up going to families in Northview Heights who have relationships with LU. A couple of times around the holidays, LU’s office wasn’t open, so we delivered directly to Northview Heights. The Fridays after Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, our van was PACKED to the gills. One of the days Dan had packed himself into the van, and couldn’t even fit all of the bags of bread available that day, there was so much. The day I delivered directly to Northview, the community volunteers were waiting for us with carts and helpers, and they were thrilled to see what was there that day. People were shouting things like ‘This is gorgeous!’ and ‘There’s so much healthy food!’ I’ve never seen someone so excited to see broccoli in my life. They were a well oiled machine in the community room, breaking down boxes, sorting, and displaying the food along the counter on the wall so people could come in and shop the food. I was so glad to see food that would otherwise be thrown away being appreciated and put to good use.
If you could give someone one reason to become a #FoodRescueHero with 412 Food Rescue, what would it be?
It’s such a great way to be a small part of something that makes a big impact. Our regular runs are less than an hour a week. We spend more time than that in a week running off at the mouth in our local coffee shop. 412FR told us recently we’d rescued over 2,000 lbs of food in June of this year. A ton of food in a month saved from the landfill! How many people did we help to feed? All in time that is easy to set aside. It’s mind boggling. I love that Leah and her team have given me and my family an easy way to help our neighbors.