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December 18th, 2015

a year in review: catching up with Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

By KIND Editor

In December 2014, New York City based nonprofit Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC), took home a $10,000 grant from KIND Causes. Since then, a lot has happened in their world. We sat down with Co-Founder Robert Lee to catch up.

1. What does Rescuing Leftover Cuisine do? Give us the elevator pitch!
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine is a nonprofit organization that engages communities to be the solution for food waste and hunger. Through an online platform, RLC crowdsources the transportation problem for excess food between food businesses such as farms, wholesalers, restaurants, and catering companies, and agencies such as food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters.

2. Tell us something we might not know about food waste in this country?
In the U.S., we produce more than enough food to feed the entire population. If we rescued 30% of the food that is wasted, that is enough nutrition to eliminate hunger entirely.

3. What inspired you to commit your time to this issue?
Food waste is an issue that affects all of us – it costs the nation and taxpayers $165 billion, represents a waste of life when we kill animals just to throw 40% all food away uneaten, and emits methane gases as one of the largest components of landfills by weight. For me personally, food waste was never tolerated in my household when I was growing up. As recent immigrants, my parents struggled financially and we would often eat just one or two meals a day. My parents told us folklore about how in your afterlife, you would need to eat all the food you ever wasted as punishment. These values instilled in me at a young age ignited my passion to make rescuing food waste top of mind.

4. RLC received a KIND Causes grant a year ago. What’s changed for you since?
The KIND Causes grant has been game changing for Rescuing Leftover Cuisine. RLC has quintupled in size and impact from this support. The financial support allowed me to stay full-time with RLC and invest in the infrastructure needed to make the impact that we have. KIND also helped bring national attention to RLC. This support has RLC to rescue over 300,000 pounds of food from going to landfills, feed over 250,000 meals, operate in over 12 cities, and engage over 2,500 volunteers.

5. What’s your favorite part of a day on the job?
My favorite part is hearing the amazing stories about how RLC is changing people’s lives. We hear stories about how the food we provide changes the lives of food insecure individuals and families who can eat and focus on getting themselves out of the situation that they are in. But we also hear stories about how volunteering with RLC changes volunteers and the food businesses we work with. Volunteers are able to engage in a short and highly impactful experience to see directly where the food would have been wasted and where the food is instead used for good. Food businesses tell us stories about how food donation is saving them time, money, and allowing them to interact with their communities on a much deeper level. These stories keep me going.

6. How can people get involved?
In New York, people can sign up to volunteer at in Albany, Niskayuna and all over Manhattan. This calendar has opportunities seven days a week from 10AM to midnight. They can also email us at for volunteer experiences that are not on the calendar.

Have an idea to make the world a little kinder? Learn more about KIND Causes here.

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