Rescuing Leftover Cuisine: Turning Excess Food into Hope

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© Courtesy of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine
Help Us Feed People, Not Landfills

In a nation filled with abundant food and resources, facing the harsh reality of wasted food and persistent hunger is disheartening. Shockingly, nearly 40 percent of the food produced in the US is tossed aside each year, while millions go to bed hungry. This stark paradox calls for a collective response, and that’s where Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC) steps in.

RLC’s founder, Robert Lee, saw this harrowing reality first-hand as a child growing up in New York City. His immigrant parents left careers in South Korea to provide a better life for their children. However, the language barrier and limited job opportunities proved difficult. As a result, Lee grew up determined to do away with wasted food and hunger. He carried this lesson with him throughout his time in the New York City public school system and at New York University, where he took on a leadership role with a food rescue club.

rescuing leftover cuisine
© Courtesy of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine
© Courtesy of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

In 2013, Lee was working on Wall Street when he took the bold step of founding RLC. By the next year, he had left his high-paying job at J.P. Morgan to pursue his dream of helping his home fight food insecurity full-time—and his boldness paid off. The RLC community came together to collect food donations, taking food that would have been thrown away and redistributing it to those in need.

Through Lee’s leadership and dedication, the organization has expanded from redistributing 150,000 pounds of food in its first two years to nearly 3,000,000 in 2022 alone! That makes an impressive total of over 13,000,000 pounds of food diverted from landfills since 2013. Looking ahead, Lee’s vision for RLC is even more ambitious, but he knows that with his team and the support of the community, it can become a reality. He aims to broaden the organization’s reach, further reducing wasted food and hunger across the US, with a goal of rescuing 4,500,000 pounds of food in 2024.

RLC’s process is simple yet transformative. With no pound requirements for food donations, they collaborate with food businesses, big and small, to collect surplus food that would otherwise end up in landfills. Their trained rescuers efficiently distribute this rescued food to local shelters, food banks, and community centers. By connecting the dots, they turn potentially wasted food into nourishment for those who need it most.

“These gifts are literally life-changing,” shared one nonprofit partner from Cambridge, MA. “When we don't have food donations, our Street outreach staff has to make PB&Js every day to give out on the street. So this is not only feeding our neighbors on the street but saving our staff about an hour of sandwich making a day, enabling them to be working on the street an hour extra a day.”

This year, RLC invites you to become part of the solution. By supporting RLC, you’re not only preventing food from going to waste, but also helping to put meals on the tables of countless individuals and families. Together, we can make this winter a season of hope and nourishment for all.

To learn more, donate, or volunteer, visit rescuingleftovercuisine.org

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Rescuing Leftover Cuisine is a national 501(c)3 nonprofit food rescue organization, operating across the United States and headquartered in New York City, that redistributes excess food to people experiencing food insecurity.

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