According to the EPA, 20 percent of what ends up in municipal landfills is food. Yet at the same, 35 million Americans experience food insecurity, and that number jumped to 42 million due to the effects of the pandemic. Keeping food out of the landfill and redistributing those in need of it is an ideal solution to this massive problem, and one non-profit trying to do this is Food Rescue Hero.
Food Rescue Hero, which calls itself the “DoorDash of food waste”, was launched in 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The non-profit uses an app (available for both iOS and android) to notify its volunteers when food donations are available for pick-up at different retailers like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Giant Eagle, Ralph’s Market, and Albertson’s. From there, volunteers are routed to the end destination, typically a food bank, community center, or non-profit with the food. According to the company, about 99 percent of the donations are successfully picked up and dropped off.
This week, Food Rescue Hero announced that it will now be offering home delivery of food that its volunteers rescue. This will also be operated through the app, and volunteer drivers will need to pass a background check to participate in these home deliveries. Throughout the pandemic, those who have the funds to do so could order through grocery delivery services like Instacart and Postmates. However, these services are often too pricey for those who face food insecurity. Additionally, many who depend on food assistance do not have access to a car or transportation, or may be housebound.
Local non-profit food banks often take on the task of rescuing wasted food independently, but there is often an issue with food transportation and delivery. Food banks typically only collect shelf-stable foods because they usually schedule pick-ups and deliveries on specific days. Food Rescue Hero employs volunteers able to pick up food on-demand, so therefore it can rescue and distribute fresh fruits, veggies, and bread products.
Too Good 2 Go is another start-up that uses an app to distribute soon-to-be food waste to consumers, and it operates throughout Europe and the U.S. Flashfood’s app allows consumers to select imperfect food items from their local grocer, and earlier this year the company partnered with Meijer to expand throughout the Midwest.
Food Rescue Hero currently operates in 12 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. The non-profit aims to be in 100 cities by 2030 and is currently accepting more donation partners and volunteer drivers.