I hosted a Linkedin LIVE with the CEO of Food Rescue US, a great organization using logistics (and elbow grease) to address two critical issues for our communities - food insecurity and food waste. Their approach to food rescue incorporates supply chain principles in innovative ways. Since 2011 they have provided more than 117 million meals and kept more than 147 million pounds of excess food out of landfills. Food Rescue US is now in 43 locations across 25 states and the District of Columbia.
The Scale of the Challenge:
The staggering statistics surrounding food waste in the U.S. are a call to action. Up to 40% of the US Food Supply is wasted. In 2019 alone, 229 million tons of food went unsold or uneaten.
Food waste occurs for various reasons throughout the supply chain, from production and distribution to consumption. Some of the reasons?
Supply Chain Inefficiencies:
Example: Inadequate transportation and storage facilities can result in spoilage or damage to perishable goods before they reach the consumer, contributing to food waste.
Overproduction and Overordering:
Example: Restaurants, caterers, and food retailers may prepare or order more food than necessary for fear of running out, leading to excess that often goes unsold or uneaten.
Market Demand Fluctuations:
Example: Sudden changes in market demand or unexpected events, such as disruptions in the supply chain, can lead to surplus inventory that may ultimately be wasted.
Example: Supermarkets often reject produce that does not meet cosmetic standards, such as fruits and vegetables with slight imperfections, even though they are perfectly edible.
Example: Buffet-style events or all-you-can-eat offerings can result in excess food prepared to meet expectations, often leading to significant waste.
Lack of Infrastructure for Food Redistribution:
Example: Some businesses, such as restaurants and grocery stores, may lack the necessary systems to redistribute surplus food to those in need, resulting in the disposal of excess edible items.
Food Rescue in Action:
Food Rescue US is addressing the precursors indirectly and the infrastructure for Food Redistribution head-on. Rescue and redistribution of surplus food addresses both food insecurity and environmental concerns related to waste.
Their direct-transfer model involves local volunteers and web-based technology to rescuing excess healthy food directly from donors and delivering it to social service agencies that support the food insecure. They have reached 43 locations across 25 states and the District of Columbia.
Civic Initiatives Revenue Share Commitment:
We were motivated to find this organization as regular conference goers, where I see food production beyond what is consumed, and we wanted to find a cause that had a public purpose supply chain at its heart.
Civic Initiatives will be making a 2023 contribution, and I encourage you to join me during their matching campaign at https://foodrescue.us/.
Additionally, I am announcing that Civic Initiatives will commit that a portion of every dollar from clients will go to this cause throughout 2024, and create volunteer opportunities for our team to help them see this issue firsthand.