Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Inc. (Henceforth Ã¢â‚¬Å“RLCÃ¢â‚¬ ) is a 501(c)3 non-profit food rescue organization based in New York City that provides solutions to prevent excess wholesome cuisine from being wasted. Currently around 40% of food produced is wasted while 1 in 5 people in New York City rely on food assistance programs to eat. Many established food rescue organizations transport excess food to the hungry already. However, RLC targets specific unmet niches in the food rescue industry by rescuing food at scale that no other food rescue organization can through the use of a web app that crowdsources to the public the problem of transportation between excess food at food businesses and human services agencies that need food. RLC solves both issues of food waste and hunger with one solution, using volunteer-driven food rescue events to help deliver the leftover food from restaurants and food businesses to food shelters. Our daily operations engage community members to become more aware of these issues in their local neighborhoods. RLC's overall goal is to combat both problems of food waste and food insecurity in locations around the U.S. while also strengthening community support.
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine's mission is to provide a reliable food rescue service by fostering community connections to reduce food waste and food insecurity.
While at New York University in 2009, Robert Lee and Louisa Chen, led a university organization called Two Birds One Stone (TBOS), which rescued leftover food from campus dining halls and delivered it to nearby homeless shelters. During the next four years as both were involved with TBOS, they became passionate about and gained an in-depth understanding of the food rescue process and its potential to eliminate hunger. Their experience at that club led them to gain a comprehensive understanding of the food rescue space and the gaps of the industry. Existing food rescue organizations today enforce a minimum pound requirement that limits many restaurants from donating their food because it does not meet the required weight for pickup. The co-founders thus formed Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Inc. on July 3rd, 2013 after winning seed funding from both NYU Reynolds Changemakers Challenge and the Do Something Bootcamp Award. RLC's mission is to rescue food, reduce food waste and eliminate hunger. In doing so, RLC strives to redefine the food rescue process while engaging and mobilizing communities to act responsibly and become stronger.
RLC Works To:
Fill the gap left by larger food rescue organizations that have minimum pound requirements upwards of 100 lbs for food that is donated. RLC has no minimum requirement and services the majority of restaurants that want to donate food but also keep their food waste to a minimum.
Use an innovative and efficient method of crowdsourcing the transportation to the public through a web application coded on Ruby on Rails. This technology allows for a flatter organization with less bureaucracy and a smaller professional staff that can coordinate the activities of thousands of volunteers in real time with just in time results.
Contribute less greenhouse gases as volunteers rescue food along the way home from work or to class or on foot.
RLC quintupled the amount of food rescued from about 50,000 pounds in 2014 to about 286,000 pounds in 2015. This has translated into 228,800 meals fed to the hungry and 130 tons of CO2 equivalent being prevented from being emitted by food waste in landfills. This has since more than tripled. In 2017, we scaled our operations and reached nearly 800,000 lbs of food rescued with increased help from our rescuers. Robert Lee, one of the co-founders of RLC, was recently named a Forbes 30 Under 30, and has expanded to 16 cities across the United States.
Goals this year
RLC expects historic growth rate to continue, and we are excited to expand our technology and services to double the number of hungry people currently served. This will translate to 6 million pounds of food rescued, 3 million meals provided, and 1 million pounds of CO2 equivalent prevented from being emitted. We hope to invest in mobile application technology that will use geo-location to automate last minute coverage of food rescue events. Contributors will be recognized on the mobile app permanently and honored at RLC's events.
In June 2014, Robert resigned from his job at JPMorgan Chase & Co. to devote his efforts full-time to RLC as CEO. RLC currently has three paid full time staff members. The full-time staff members are in charge with internal operations that include general operations management, partnership oversight, fundraising, and web development. Robert Lee, the CEO, is in charge of management, strategic direction, and fundraising. Randi Greenberg, the Community Outreach Director, works to recruit, engage, and train volunteers, Lead Rescuers, and Core Rescuers. Le Phan handles Human Resources and fundraising efforts. Catherine Smiley, the Program Director, handles all operations and oversees both the Community and Partner Outreach divisions to ensure food rescue programs are sustaining appropriate levels. Clara Son, our Partner Outreach Associate onboards, negotiates with, and manages partner food businesses. Amanda Bryant is our office manager. We still consider ourselves a small but growing organization, and RLC's full-time staff wear many hats and work on many different projects. Through its web application, RLC currently engages over 8,000 volunteers to rescue food from suppliers and deliver it to those who need it most in their own communities. RLC has the ability to readily mobilize large numbers of volunteers due to its user-friendly online calendar.