An Update from Food Rescue Alliance

Food Rescue Alliance is the recipient of our three-year Compassionate Impact Grant. The organization writes us quarterly to let us know what their community has been accomplishing. Here’s their update for their ninth month as a grantee:

Food Rescue Alliance (FRA), facilitates the development and growth of community-based food rescue organizations. Our network believes that healthy food access and food waste are best addressed at the local level by member organizations who’ve developed strong intra-community relationships. Since our six month impact report, we have received two new applications from new members and have begun to onboard them into FRA. We have also brought on a Network Designer to help facilitate and manage the network, moving us from being simply a resource sharing network to one with common goals we can work towards collaboratively. However, to understand how FRA impacts the day-to-day operations of localized food rescues, we have asked a few of our members to tell their stories.

Bobcat Eats Food Waste Awareness and Prevention Program

The Bobcat Eats Food Waste Awareness and Prevention Program is a food rescue program in Merced County, housed at the University of California Merced. Food is picked up from local grocery stores, flea markets, farmers’ markets, cafés, hotels and other locations and it is redistributed to one of our 53 distribution sites. Since beginning in May 2018, 2,362,709 pounds have been rescued and we have generated relationships with 59 food donors.

Building on this success, the No Food Left Behind program began in August 2019 which is a free text service that connects students, staff and faculty with events that might have food left over. The program was increasingly popular until the pandemic halted operations with the ending of in-person events. However, between starting up in August 2019 and halting in February 2020, 125 events occurred allowing for 850 pounds of food to be picked up by mostly food insecure students as well as staff and faculty. Currently the text service connects the community with other food resources in the county.

Due to the COVID-19  pandemic food insecurity in our community greatly increased, and to support this need the Pop-Up People’s Pantry opened in April 2020, which is a free food distribution occurring every Saturday at a community garden downtown. In an effort to address the ever-increasing need for accessible food resources (and to reduce food waste), a 24-hour community fridge, the People’s Fridge, opened in September of 2020 with two additional fridges launching in March 2021 and September 2021. These fridges offer free produce to anyone. Additionally, anyone can donate to them as they work on a “take what you need, leave what you don’t model.” Due to their effectiveness and popularity, the goal is to open more in 2022.

FRA’s Food Rescue Robot has been imperative in the operation of these programs allowing data to be collected and analyzed. It showcases data in easy to read bar graphs which helps demonstrate the impact of our programs. The ability to generate receipts for food donors allows us to maintain strong relationships and incentivize them to continue to donate surplus food. The Robot also streamlines work and workflows and helps us complete our mission: Save the food. Feed the people.

Bobcat Eats Food Waste dropping off a delivery of fresh produce to a local community partner!

Seven Valleys Food Rescue

Seven Valleys Food Rescue (SVFR), a program of Seven Valleys Health Coalition, began in 2019 through a partnership with the City of Cortland and with New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC). Seven Valleys Food Rescue picks up excess healthy food from local food donors across Cortland County and delivers it to local organizations and community programs that feed food insecure community members. Our work is built on a foundation of awesome volunteers, local community partners, regional collaborations, and one SVFR staff member.

Seven Valleys Food Rescue’s food pantry at the local library.

Seven Valleys Food Rescue recently connected with a local library that was interested in starting a food pantry at their location. After hearing their idea, we were able to help them establish their food pantry by committing to a weekly drop-off of rescued food. Because of this, the library has been able to grow and thrive with the additional support it can offer its community.

“The food pantry has been busy! The special delivery we had yesterday is nearly gone–people were thrilled to have the produce and bread. Thank you for everything you do!” -Library Director

We know the real gold stars go to the local producer who the donates produce and to our volunteers who make the delivery every week, but we can’t help but feel proud of our role as coordinator. It takes a village!