“What I love about my work is that it deals with cutting down on food waste and providing meals to those who are food-insecure,” says Kate Urbank, D.C. site director for Food Rescue US.
Urbank oversees the organization’s food rescue program, which allows large-scale businesses with their own cafeterias, farmers markets, and local grocers to sign up as food donors — meaning they contribute foodstuffs that are still fit for consumption to D.C.-area nonprofits that operate food pantries or soup kitchens.
Serving as the go-between are dozens of volunteer “food rescuers” who pick up the excess food and transport it to the receiving agencies. “What we do as food rescuers is provide that last-mile service,” says Urbank. “So we pick up food from, say, National Geographic — which we do five times a week — and drive it usually no more than 15 minutes down the road to an agency that will serve the food.”
Beneficiaries include SMYAL, Casa Ruby, Martha’s Table, and Thrive DC. Some food runners even reach nonprofits as far out as Arlington and Fairfax County. Urbank is always looking for new volunteers to make food runs between 8 a.m and 6 p.m. on weekdays. She plans to organize weekend food rescues, as well, and to enlist local law firms to sign up as food donors.
Food Rescue US is making it easier than ever to get involved thanks to a new app — donors, receiving agencies, and food rescuers can all sign up, arrange pickup and delivery times, and even “adopt” runs based on their availability.
“It makes a huge difference when you see how grateful the food donors are, because they don’t have to throw away all the perfectly beautiful, gorgeous food they’ve prepared,” Urbank says. “On the other side, you drive down the road and deliver the food, and it provides a meal for those in need.”
The Food Rescue app is free of charge and available on Apple’s App Store and at Google Play. For more information on Food Rescue, visit foodrescue.us.