The United States Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. The ranks of the food insecure skyrocketed during the pandemic, with 17 million more Americans experiencing food insecurity in 2020 than in the previous year. When food insecurity jumped to 13.5% in Litchfield County in 2020, Food Rescue US – Northwest CT stepped up to help.
“Ten years ago, the Food Rescue US founders had a groundbreaking idea that would decrease food waste while combating food insecurity. It would unite and empower communities comprised of residents in need of help, volunteers, local businesses, and receiving agencies to serve themselves with the support of technology,” recalls Kathy Minck, site director for Food Rescue US – Northwest CT. Believing that they could use technology to connect excess food that would otherwise be wasted with local agencies that could ensure the food reached people who need it, Food Rescue US created the first ever food recovery app. “With this innovative technology, communities have the resources to mobilize hundreds to thousands of volunteers to distribute surplus food on a micro to macro scale,” explains Minck.
Relying on the app, Food Rescue US created a network in northwest Connecticut that connects farmers, restaurants, and supermarkets with social service organizations that work with individuals experiencing food insecurity. Volunteers sign up to “rescue” the food and deliver it to nonprofit agencies, creating a win-win situation: farmers and restaurants are glad to donate their excess food before it goes to waste, and local residents are able to access the nutrition they need.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Connecticut Community Foundation has supported Food Rescue US – Northwest CT with more than $30,000 in grants to sustain its work and expand its reach. This support has enabled the organization to recruit more food donors, volunteers, and local distributing agencies, which translates into more meals provided each year. Today, Food Rescue US connects food from 60 farms, stores, restaurants and other businesses with 40 social services agencies serving people experiencing food insecurity across the region.
Among Food Rescue US’s partners is New Milford-based Camella’s Cupboard, a food pantry that serves children, older adults, and other vulnerable populations.
“We are so thankful for our collaboration with Food Rescue US and are constantly amazed by the amazing opportunities provided for area pantries,” says Camella’s Cupboard founder and executive director Angela Chastain.