White Pony Express Launches Program to Expand Food Rescue Reach
Updated: Jan 11
WPE Food Rescue Direct Program Launches
What is Food Rescue Direct?
The Food Rescue Direct (FRD) program will help thousands of food insecure people by providing us with a new food donation model. WPE currently receives food donations from over 100 organizations that provide large quantities—often pallets!—of rescued food, which we collect in refrigerated box trucks, repackage, and transport to organizations that feed hungry people. Through FRD, we are initiating an entirely new collection and distribution system for smaller, more frequent donations that we have historically been unable to pick up due to our capacity limitations. Using an innovative app (think GrubHub for food rescue), food donors can signal when they have excess food and an available “food runner” volunteer will pick up and deliver it directly to a matching food recipient organization.
What is the expected impact?
Even before COVID, Contra Costa County had over 112,500 people living in poverty. We want to connect people who need food to excess food. We know that grocers, caterers, restaurants, and farmers throw away tons of food that isn’t sold—in fact, California law has mandated recovering 20% of edible food that is currently thrown away (by 2022). FRD provides a pioneering opportunity to help these food providers minimize their waste while supporting the community. We’ve identified over 600 local, licensed businesses that are FRD donation candidates (Tier II). Once FRD is fully operational, we estimate nearly 600,000 pounds of food per year—about 500,000 meals—could be provided to hungry neighbors and kept out of the waste stream. (These numbers will depend in part on the amount of funding we are able to secure to support the program.)
How will this project enhance our service to the community?
Since COVID started, WPE has nearly tripled our food rescue and delivery services, providing over 6,000,000 pounds of fresh, healthy food. Through the efforts of our deeply dedicated team, we added a second large volunteer shift each day, allowing us to add 30 agencies to our food distribution schedule. Unfortunately, we still have 30 agencies on our waiting list. The supply is there, the demand is there, and we are working around the clock; we are only limited by our program’s operational capacity. FRD creates an innovative, decentralized system for food distribution that will increase our ability to connect with and serve the community.
Understanding Tier I and II Generators
The distinction between the two is not based on size, but rather by their supply of “ingredients” vs. prepared foods. Included below is a wonderfully helpful infographic from CalRecycle.
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