Food Rescue Fights Climate Change and Hunger

Solving the food waste problem by redistributing unwanted food to where it’s wanted

What’s at Stake

Nearly a third of the world’s food is wasted, both in the supply chain and in homes, schools, businesses, and restaurants. Food waste causes actual harm through climate change and food insecurity. Rotting food in landfills emits a hefty dose of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. It’s responsible for about six percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. And over 40 million Americans are food insecure, a number that has likely grown during the pandemic. Preventing food waste can address both these problems at once. 

Food Rescue

Enter the Food Rescue movement. Thousands of volunteers pick up food where it’s not wanted and take it to people who need it. That includes collecting the spills of harvests lying in fields or showing up at the kitchen doors of restaurants and catering companies to pick up prepared meals. 

An award-winning app called Food Rescue Hero makes food rescue connections easy. Its developers say it has prevented nearly 10 million pounds of CO2 equivalent from entering the atmosphere. “They’re dropping off at a range of locations, including—during the pandemic—to people’s homes, helping the least mobile, who are often the most at risk of hunger,” writes Talib Visram in this story in Fast Company, which comes with a podcast.

Local—and National—Heroes 

  • Food Rescue U.S. coordinates waste reduction efforts nationwide. They say, “Fill plates, not landfills!” Follow them on Twitter at @foodrescueus  

  • The founder of Pittsburgh-based 412 Food Rescue serves her community and developed the Food Rescue Hero app described above.

  • Sustainable America offers the Food Rescue Locator, “a directory of organizations across the United States that rescue, glean, transport, prepare, and distribute food to the needy in their communities.”

  • Feeding America, the umbrella organization for many food banks across the U.S., is fighting food waste in Tennessee by supporting the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. Second Harvest works with green bean growers to rescue millions of pounds of green beans that are broken or too short for grocery stores. See this video.

  • Feeding America also offers an online matching service called MealConnect that allows retailers, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses to alert nearby feeding programs when food is available for immediate pickup. 

  • Last year the grounded vacation airline Sunwing donated over 46,000 unused in-flight meals to Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue charity.