New 412 Food Rescue Program Supports Restaurants While Feeding the Hungry

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New 412 Food Rescue Program Supports Restaurants While Feeding the Hungry
A riff on a program called “Double Play,” Community Takeout will pay restaurants to produce food that will be delivered to people who need it most during the coronavirus pandemic, giving needed income to our restaurant community while feeding those in need.

The program will also support the grassroots Restaurant Mutual Aid Network which works to assist out-of-work restaurant workers in the COVID-19 crisis.

Pittsburgh, PA (May 11, 2020) — With food insecurity at an all-time high and the restaurant industry in crisis, Pittsburgh-based nonprofit 412 Food Rescue is launching a new program to provide assistance on both ends of a huge food supply chain problem. Community Takeout will pay locally owned restaurants to prepare 1,500 meals per week for people in need of food assistance, starting today at noon.

Inspired by Double Play, a program independently launched by Dr. Mark Baratz, a longtime 412 Food Rescue supporter and food waste warrior, the program aims to scale the impact that Dr. Baratz has started. “I am very excited about the new Community Takeout Program,” says Dr. Baratz. “Once again, 412 Food Rescue has identified a critical need in our community and has devised a novel approach to providing assistance to families at a time of unprecedented food insecurity.”

The program will launch with five independently owned restaurants — Arnold’s Tea, Bae Bae’s Kitchen, Khalil’s, DiAnoia’s Eatery, and The Warren — which represent a broad swath of Pittsburgh’s diverse food community. Each has remained active during the pandemic, with some cooking charitable meals at their own expense.

After each day’s meals are prepared, 412 Food Rescue volunteers, called Food Rescue Heroes, will make no-contact deliveries of the food to the organization’s nonprofit partners and also directly to people who are home-bound and experiencing food insecurity.

As the coronavirus pandemic has isolated at-risk people and caused a spike in unemployment, 412 Food Rescue has received an unprecedented number of requests for food assistance. While the organization typically works exclusively through nonprofit partners to distribute meals to food insecure populations, this program will also assist in-need people who have contacted 412 Food Rescue directly in recent weeks.

The cost of each Community Takeout meal is $10, with $6 paid directly to the restaurant, $2 covering logistics and transport coordination, and $2 donated to the Greater Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Mutual Aid fund. “We appreciate the collaboration with 412 Food Rescue through the new Community Takeout program,” says Kacy McGill, co-founder of Greater Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Mutual Aid. “All funds raised will go directly to providing small emergency cash grants to 500+ restaurant families in the region.”

Over the course of 10 weeks, each participating restaurant will receive $18,000. 412 Food Rescue hopes these payments will help cover fixed overhead costs incurred while restaurants are closed to dine-in business. Takeout containers, an expense that has increased for most restaurants that remain open, will be donated to this program by US Foods and Sysco.

David Neimanis, Partner Experience Manager at 412 Food Rescue, says restaurants are “an integral part of our community and culture” that must be supported at this time. “They’re literally in the business of bringing people together — something that they can’t do given the current situation. They have also been our partners–donating their surplus to help us support those in need.”

Christine Grady, formerly of Rivendale Farms and Union Standard, has been volunteering to help get this program off the ground. “We knew that there had to be a way to tie this problem together with the food insecurity that is hitting unprecedented levels. This program allows 412 Food Rescue to safely provide meals to those in need and to support restaurants, not just by providing them business, but by helping them do what they do best: feed people.”

The participating restaurant owners are glad to be able to serve the community during a difficult time. “Access to food is a human right,” says Chef Claudy Pierre of Arnold’s Tea. “It is our honor to be able to partner with 412 Food Rescue and feed more families. More hands make for a lighter load, and we’re carrying this load with our brothers and sisters in food service.” Tyler Belden-England, of DiAnoia’s eatery, agrees. “As a family-owned business, it’s important for us to return the generosity we’ve received through this pandemic. Working with 412 Food Rescue is the perfect way to directly provide for those most in need.”

412 Food Rescue is seeking individual donors to help fund and grow this program. Anyone interested in supporting the Community Takeout program can visit this link.

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About 412 Food Rescue: Driven by the belief that good food belongs to people, not landfills, 412 Food Rescue launched in March 2015 to redirect healthy food from the waste stream to nonprofits that serve food insecure populations. In the United States, 40% of food produced is wasted while 1 in 9 people goes hungry. Focusing on the logistics challenges of retail food recovery, 412 Food Rescue addresses both problems through technology-coordinated, community-powered networks. The only organization in Allegheny County focused on food that would otherwise be discarded, 412 Food Rescue develops innovative solutions to eradicate food waste in the region and is now expanding its model to cities around the country. To date, 412 Food Rescue has redirected over 9 million pounds of perfectly good food from going to landfills. The organization works with 700 food retailers, 600 nonprofit partners and over 10,000 volunteer drivers.

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