Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

This Entry has been submitted.

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine: Crowdsourcing Transportation of Rescued Excess Food to Eliminate Hunger

New York City, United StatesNew York City, United States
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The world wastes enough food to feed four times the number of hungry people in the world annually. Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Inc. (RLC) makes the practice of delivering leftover food to the hungry efficient and cost effective through the innovative technology that engages the public as volunteers.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if hunger was eliminated through the use of an automated system that engaged communities to rescue the 25% of food waste needed to feed all of the hungry people in the entire world?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

According to the UNEP, 33% of food produced in the world is never eaten, resulting in 1.3 billion tons of food waste annually. Just 25% of this could feed all the world’s 795 million chronically hungry people. Nearly 17% of the world’s land, 24% of freshwater, and 3% of energy is used to produce and transport wasted food. In landfills, food waste emits methane gases and would rank as the third top emitter after USA and China if it were a country.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

RLC crowdsources transportation of food waste to human services agencies through an automated calendar platform that engages potential volunteers and allows them to sign up for food rescue events seamlessly. More than 2,300 people have already signed up to use RLC’s online tool to rescue and transport food to where it needs to be on foot, bike, car, or truck of their own. The automated tool also gives the RLC admin team analytics of food suppliers’ food waste trends, volunteer information, and impact. Food suppliers actively seek out RLC to engage in and sometimes pay for RLC’s services for edible food excess removal. This new innovative, yet simple technological solution engages and mobilizes communities in twelve cities across the US.

Awards

NYU Reynolds Changemakers Challenge, Do Something Boot Camp Award, CNN Hero, and Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood Award
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

About a year ago, 20 people arrived late to the NYC Rescue Mission when it had run out of food. Just as they were being turned away, RLC volunteers arrived with rescued food enough to feed the entire line of people. Now, more recently, this same homeless shelter acknowledges that RLC saves it over a $1,000 per week, allowing it to provide additional hygienic products, shelter, and clothing. On the food donor side, these companies are provided with an alternative excess food disposal services that is more cost effective than throwing food out. Furthermore, the environment is improved from both the reduction of natural resources wasted in producing excess food and the reduction of methane gases emitted from wasted food in landfills.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Monthly, RLC currently rescues over 25,000 lbs of food and serves over 20,000 meals. Cumulatively, RLC has rescued over 290,000 lbs of food that would have contributed to over 150 Gtons of CO2 equivalent in greenhouse gases. Over 80 food supplier companies have benefited from using RLC’s services, and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been saved by human services agencies that RLC provides food for. We would like to see RLC’s impact double. With continued media exposure, client acquisition has only been bottlenecked by internal capacity. By 2017, RLC’s first goal is to rescue 500,000 pounds of food, bringing cumulative total to more than a million pounds of food and meals served while maintaining cost structure. RLC’s second goal is to empower more communities to become the solution by engaging an additional 6,000 volunteers, 100 food suppliers partners, and 75 agency clients.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

RLC’s strategy of expanding impact include brand expansion and increased media presence. One of RLC’s goals is to start 10 new branches of RLC through grassroots involvement in cities with the most need of RLC’s solution. This involves gathering volunteers in these target cities who are passionate and accountable, and providing training, technology, and resources for these individuals to form a successful branch of RLC. Increased media presence in the form of highlights, articles, TV segments, and radio advertisements helps attract new volunteers to get involved in their communities.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

RLC’s earned revenue streams ensure long term financial sustainability while traditional sources of non-profit funding are used for the short term. Food suppliers are charged at different pricing models depending on type and consistency of food donations after receiving a trial period of RLC’s services for free. Currently with catering companies, $0.25/lb of food rescued is charged while corporations are charged a flat fee of $20-100/month.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

RLC leverages technology to crowdsource transportation through an online application, allowing for greater engagement from the community. Other organizations such as City Harvest, Island Harvest, and Lovin’ Spoonfuls own trucks, vans, and bikes which are costly and forces them to impose minimum pound requirements. RLC has no minimum, which means greater food supplier participation. RLC operates efficiently at $0.10/lb of food rescued vs industry standard $0.24/lb, making it more scalable. RLC operates in 12 cities, making it the only national food rescue organization with earned revenue.
Team

Founding Story

The issues of food waste and hunger are so widespread and ingrained in our culture that many solutions have been attempted. One such attempt was a local organization, a university club that brought leftover dining hall food to homeless shelters that the co-founders were involved in for four years. However, this model, common across the United States, remains limited and thereby merely local due to lack of resources and organic, sustainable growth. This was the environment in which Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Inc was born – the principals of finding an efficient, self-funding system that does not rely on the charity model to grow.

Team

Two full-time members include one Co-founder/CEO and a Community Outreach Analyst. The full-time CEO has work experience in finance, nonprofit, and startup industries and worked in food rescue for over 6 years. The full-time Community Outreach Analyst has two years of sales, human resources, and community engagement experience. She currently helps to manage 2,300 volunteers that have helped to build RLC. The other co-founder works part-time, and has expertise in the legal field. The team also includes a part-time CFO who has worked in investment banking and currently works full-time at a private equity firm. A part-time Ruby Developer is expected to come on board full-time as the project grows. RLC also has 5 board members that include the founder of an accounting firm, director of philanthropy, marketing director of Uber, manager of a Food & Beverage company, and partner of a law firm.