With more than 72 billion pounds of food going to waste nationwide, we’re taking action to help reduce food waste in our own backyard through a new pilot program called Middle Mile Food Rescue.
The program, a partnership of the Food Bank, Feeding America and local nonprofit Keep Austin Fed, helps connect businesses with a relief agency by having a volunteer pick up healthy food that would otherwise go to waste.
Here’s how it works:
After being trained by Keep Austin Fed, volunteers will respond to real-time posts from businesses, small/medium retailers, restaurants, hotels, farms, caterers, and similar businesses about food that’s available for pickup. Once volunteers accept the donation, they’ll be connected to a nearby food pantry, shelter, or soup kitchen that can accept the food.
“Food waste is an incredible issue in this country. Not only do we have so many food insecure individuals, but it’s also a tremendous burden on our ecosystem…By working to eliminate wasted food and at the same time working in a very cost-effective way to feed our food insecure neighbors, it’s really a win-win for everyone,” Feeding America Director of Retail Information Services Justin Block said.
The program is still in its early stages and Keep Austin Fed is helping schedule volunteer pickups. As the initiative grows, we’ll be making it easier for volunteers, donors and hunger agencies to work together through Feeding America's MealConnect app.
Through the app, donors will be able to post the food they have available. Agencies and volunteers will then be able to accept the pickups and deliver the food quickly.
With Austin's Universal Recycling Ordinance now in effect, this program will make it easier for business to comply with the ordinance while helping nourish Central Texans in need.
At the moment, we have approximately 25 Partner Agencies and nearly 10 donors who are participating in the Middle Mile Program. As one of seven food banks nationwide who are piloting this program, Feeding America has donated $75,000 to help launch the program, increase the level of donations and to prepare agencies.
We’re excited to expand the program and to establish best practices for the rest of the Feeding America network of food banks.
To become a Middle Mile volunteer, register here.