NEW ORLEANS — Everyday, restaurants and catering services throw out pounds and pounds of food. Now, there is an easy way to donate it to people in need in New Orleans.
Audubon Nature Institute caters events almost everyday. After the event, they typically have food leftover.
"We could compost it or otherwise it would go to waste," said Chimene Grant Saloy, V.P. of Community Affairs at Audubon Nature Institute.
Now instead of going to waste, a volunteer can pick it up to give it away.
"The people who receive the food are ecstatic," said Michael Hackett, one of 18 volunteer drivers with Rescue Runner.
Rescue Runner is a new program through Second Harvest Food Bank in New Orleans. It launched in September thanks to a grant from Shipt.
"That food that would go into a landfill is ending up on someone's plate that same day," said Emily Slanzer, Food Sourcing manager with Second Harvest Food Bank.
It allows restaurants and catering services with extra food at the end of their day or week to give it away.
"We've probably donated 12 to 15 times since September," Saloy said.
"Any food business who has a donation that could fit in a personal vehicle is a great fit for this program," Slazer said.
Using the free app 'Meal Connect,' a business can alert volunteers that food needs to be picked up. Someone like Hackett will accept it, stop by the business, and the app will tell him where to take it.
All the food is delivered to food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters like The New Orleans Mission. The New Orleans Mission serves about 300 meals a day. Since September, they've received about 3,000 meals from Rescue Runner.
"You would never think you come to a homeless shelter and you're going to get a meal prepared by a local restaurant, it's fantastic," said David Bottner, CEO of The New Orleans Mission.
If you're a business or want to volunteer, email email@example.com.