A local nonprofit has rescued half a million pounds of food headed for the dumpster, diverting it to food-insecure Cincinnatians instead. Last Mile Food Rescue launched in October with a one-year goal of rescuing about 350,000 pounds.
Volunteer drivers use an Uber-like app to find grocery stores, restaurants and convenience stores with food to donate.
"Rather than it going to the dump when it's still good, fresh and healthy, we'll redirect it and bring it to food pantries, soup kitchens, those kinds of places," said Chief Operating Officer Eileen Budo. "And their customers are wanting the food right away. So, the shorter shelf life matches up with the type of food location that we're bringing the food to."
About 250 people actively volunteer for deliveries. Budo says there's lots of room to grow.
"We keep getting more calls of different food purveyors that have food that's available, so we need new rescue volunteers all the time. We're growing like crazy," Budo said. "We probably rescue from about four or five different Krogers in Cincinnati, but there are total a 70 that are in our realm of possibility. And that's a rescue every day, six days a week."
Other food donors include UDF, Castellini Produce and the Reds and FCC stadiums.
A one-time rescue typically takes less than an hour to complete, but Budo says a dedicated volunteer could commit to regular pickups from a nearby donor.
The technology behind the Last Mile app was developed by a company in Pittsburgh. Budo says Cincinnati is one of 10 cities using the system for food rescue programs.
The nonprofit's new goal is to rescue a million and a half pounds of food by the end of the year.