The Food Rescue Hero Network is celebrating
150 MILLION POUNDS
of food recovered!
In August of 2022, the Food Rescue Hero Network celebrated reaching the milestone of 100 million pounds of food rescued & redistributed since our start in 2016.
In nine months, our incredible network has already increased this cumulative impact by 50%.
A brief history
412 Food Rescue – the organization that created Food Rescue Hero – was founded on a simple belief that people are wired for good. People want to pitch in, help each other out, and make a difference in their community. Sometimes they just aren’t sure of HOW to get involved.
Our team wagered that if we could coordinate food rescue pick ups near locations people visit every day, and then 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. But 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.
Food Rescue Hero
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.
Not only did our volunteers prove us right – they knocked our goals out of the park. We launched the Food Rescue Hero app in November of 2016 and a month later, reached 1 million pounds of food recovered since 2015. 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.
But, with the variable food recovery dynamic comes a lot of surprises. Sometimes a food donor shows up with double the donation expected. And some days that same donor may not have anything. It’s a day-to-day, ever-changing reality.
One day, our team found ourselves unable to place an incredibly large donation of cucumbers. We reached out to our partners and placed many of them, but couldn’t place them all. “Did we decrease hunger in our community that dramatically?”
New avenues of distribution
We quickly realized that what we actually identified was a multi-layered problem to address: there were people experiencing food insecurity that did not qualify for traditional models of support, or who lived outside the service area for various programs, or somehow fell through the cracks of traditional food distribution. So we set our sights on finding new ways to directly reach individuals experiencing food insecurity, meeting them where they already were in their daily lives.
In our pilot city of Pittsburgh, 412 Food Rescue created an innovative grocery and prepared meal delivery service to residential housing areas where convenient food access did not exist. Within a few months of the pilot, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh shared some pretty remarkable news: emergency phone calls for food had stopped.
Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we also piloted our Home Delivery feature, to directly reach community members who were the most vulnerable to COVID-19. In Pittsburgh and Northern 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.
Nationwide, we’ve grown this community of volunteers, our Food Rescue Heroes, to over 44,000. In total, these volunteer drivers have recovered 150 million pounds of food and delivered it to people who need it, delivering at a 97.6% service level (higher than some commercial services) and keeping these valuable resources out of landfill.
The impact of this achievement cannot be overstated. In a world where millions of people go hungry every day, every pound of rescued food can make a difference. It can mean eliminating the impossible choice a parent faces when determining if their kids have enough to eat or if bills get paid that month. By having a nutritious meal on the table, it’s one less thing for them to worry about – and our entire community thrives as a result.
150 million pounds
Reaching this milestone of 150 million pounds is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all our partner staff, donors, and volunteers. Their tireless efforts have helped to feed millions of people, while also reducing the amount of food waste that ends up in landfills, releasing harmful carbon emissions.
This achievement is also a reminder of the importance of supporting food rescue organizations, like our 15 network partners. These organizations rely on the generosity of donors and volunteers to continue their work. By supporting these organizations, we can not only help to reduce food waste, but also ensure that everyone has access to nutritious food.
Our celebration today is a testament to the power of collective action and the impact that we can have when we work together to address important issues. Let’s continue to do our part to create a world where everyone has access to the food they need to thrive.
Join a growing community of food rescue organizations
Our 15 partners in the U.S. and Canada operate in over 25 cities:
Today, our Food Rescue Hero Network measurably saves fresh nutritious food from going to waste in: