Some 400,000 pounds is a lot of weight for a 1-year-old to carry. But in March, 412 Food Rescue marked its anniversary with that tonnage of edible food saved from landfills and distributed to the needy, says CEO Leah Lizarondo, who co-founded the nonprofit with Gisele Fetterman.
Donors provide the food, whether it’s been mislabeled, misdelivered or is simply nearing its sell-by date. 412 Food Rescue quickly matches donations to recipients nearby, from food pantries to public-housing complexes. Deliveries are made (usually within 24 hours) by the group’s 200 active volunteer drivers.
The nonprofit, which is funded by foundations and individual donors, keeps growing. Recently, it announced a partnership with Giant Eagle, the region’s largest food retailer. Three Giant Eagles in Pittsburgh’s East End are currently among the group’s 75 donor sites, along with food distributors like Gordon Food Services and Paragon Foods. The recipients, all nonprofits, number 100, says Lizarondo.
New donors are always welcome, she says — bakeries are currently wanted — as are volunteers. Even Zipcar is helping: The alternative car-rental network will shortly begin offering usage credits to volunteer food-rescuers who lack their own vehicles. (Most donations fit in a passenger car.)
All the rescued food is fresh — the kind that’s hardest for needy folks to access. More than half is fresh fruits and vegetables, a disproportionate amount being short-lived salad greens. As Lizarondo quips, “I can never look at mesclun mix the same way again.”