A Connecticut non-profit is reducing food waste one carload at a time.
Food Rescue U.S. developed an app that connects food donors, like grocery stores and restaurants, with receiving agencies, such as homeless shelters and soup kitchens.
Volunteers, known as food rescuers, deliver the donated food from the donor to the receiving agency. The process is designed to be quick, so that the food spends a limited time in transport.
"A food rescue takes generally less than an hour. And it's usually less than five or six miles away," said Nicole Straight, Site Director for Fairfield County.
NBC Connecticut rode along with Straight on a recent rescue. She picked up surplus produce from a grocery store in Westport, and delivered it to a homeless shelter less than a mile away.
"This is such an incredible option as opposed to throwing this food out, which is perfectly edible," Straight said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates as much as 40 percent of all food grown, produced and shipped in the U.S. will never be eaten. The majority of that wasted food ends up in landfills, where it generates harmful methane gas.
“Not donating your unused food is terrible for the environment,” said Straight.
Food Rescue U.S. says its donations consist of excess inventory, along with food that is no longer considered marketable due to nearing expiration dates or slight defects such as bruising or misshaping.
Straight said she gets a lot of questions about liability.
Federal and state laws protect food donors and receiving agencies in the event someone becomes ill from the donated food.
“People are so grateful to have fresh food,” Straight said.
Food Rescue U.S. is based in Norwalk. Its Connecticut operations include New Haven and Northwest Connecticut, and the organization is growing. It currently has rescue sites in 18 cities across the country.