(Photo courtesy 412 Food Rescue)
A local non-profit agency that has delivered 5 million pounds of unwanted food to needy families is asking for more volunteers from the Mon-Yough area.
“We are in need of volunteers in and around McKeesport and West Mifflin so food that is made available as a donation can be delivered to organizations that distribute it,” said Leah Lizarondo, chief executive officer of 412 Food Rescue. “It’s a chance to make a local impact on both food waste and hunger.”
Most food banks only accept non-perishable items --- such as canned and boxed foods --- because of the difficulty of storing and handling fresh food.
But 412 Food Rescue uses a smartphone app and the Internet to quickly match surplus perishable and fresh foods from supermarkets and restaurants with food banks. Technology writers have described it as the "Uber of food recovery."
The non-profit, based in Pittsburgh's East Liberty neighborhood, was founded in 2015 by Lizarondo and Gisele Fetterman, now the wife of new Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, to serve the Pittsburgh area and Allegheny County. In 2017, 412 Food Rescue expanded into the surrounding counties under the name "724 Food Rescue."
Food donors include major retail chains such as Giant Eagle, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, bakeries such as Schwebel's and Mancini's, caterers, Pittsburgh college and university cafeterias, and restaurants, including Eat 'n Park.
Besides food pantries and kitchens, fresh food also is supplied to homeless shelters and Meals on Wheels programs throughout the region.
“We can always use extra food because there are a lot of people in need,” said Rose Marshall, site coordinator of Meals on Wheels in McKeesport. “The food we get from 412 Food Rescue doesn’t go to waste and the people who receive it are very appreciative.”
But according to Jessi Marsh, a spokeswoman for 412 Food Rescue, the program needs more volunteers to make deliveries in the Mon Valley.
The Food Rescue Hero app provides volunteers with built-in maps, delivery verification and connections with other volunteers and their friends. A pickup and delivery generally takes less than an hour, according to Marsh.
“It’s easy and simple to volunteer using the app,” said Tina Kapottas of White Oak, a volunteer who rescues regularly in McKeesport. “I can do it when I’m available. People really do need help in getting enough food, plus it reduces waste.”
Editor's Note: Quotes in this story were taken from a press release provided by Jessi March.
Originally published January 22, 2019.