412 Food Rescue

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412 Food Rescue
412 Food Rescue Logo.png
FounderLeah Lizarondo,
Gisele Barreto Fetterman
Founded atPittsburgh, PA
Headquarters6022 Broad Street,
Pittsburgh, PA, 15206
Staff (2018)

412 Food Rescue is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending hunger by organizing volunteers to deliver surplus food to insecure communities instead of landfills.[3] Since its creation in 2015, the organization has redistributed over three million pounds of food through the use of its mobile application, Food Rescue Hero.[2] They are currently rolling out the app nationwide.[4]

Food Reuse Strategy[edit]

412 Food Rescue is unique in that it relies primarily on the efforts of volunteers to transport and deliver the food immediately.[5] Their food distribution model pairs one of its 450 donor organizations, often grocery stores and restaurants with other nonprofit partners so that the food may taken to individuals with no access to them. [6]

Volunteers are notified of the pick-ups and deliveries to be made by the use of their Food Rescue Hero application.[7] As such, 412 Food Rescue does not maintain an inventory or store food in warehouses.[8] It obtains fresh and healthy produce which is immediately delivered by a volunteer to the non-profit organization that then distributes it to the food insecure recipients.[9]


Early Beginnings[edit]

The organization was founded by Leah Lizarondo and Gisele Fetterman in March 2015.[8] Lizarondo was inspired by the Free Store, a free clothing outlet in Braddock run by co-founder Fetterman. The Free store gathers surplus goods and distribute them for free to those in need.[5][10]

At the time of founding, food insecurity affected 14.2% of Pittsburgh. However, around 31% of food produced went straight to landfills.[8] The two focused their efforts in solving both those problems by developing a means to bring the food to those who need it. [11] Initially, 412 Food Rescue used the social media platform Facebook to recruit volunteers to transport food between donors and recipients.[12] The organization has grew and shifted from the social media platform to their own application.[13]


412 Food Rescue has made a strong positive impact on ending hunger in public housing communities of Pittsburgh. They've virtually eliminated emergency referrals bringing them down from 5-7 a month to 0 on official reports.[14] The organization boasts a 98 to 99 percent success rate with food pickups and deliveries over the entire year.[3] The organization helped furloughed federal employees during the 2019 government shutdown by setting up food distribution centers.[15][16]


412 Food Rescue App[edit]

412 Food Rescue’s reliance on the efforts of thousands of volunteers is made possible through an application launched by the organization in November 2016[17] called “Food Rescue Hero” which is available in both the Google Play Store and the iTunes App Store.[18] Over 7,000 people have downloaded and registered on the application.[12]

A volunteer who is a registered user of the application will receive an alert whenever a prospective donor wishes to donate. Details including the food, the quantity and the distance is made available to volunteer, who provides his or her own vehicle to pick-up the food and deliver it to the non-profit organization that receives it.[8] The application’s algorithm matches the available food to the suitable recipient.[5][4]

Hidden Harvest[edit]

Hidden Harvest retrieves fresh fruit from unharvested trees, orchards and farms around the city. A map is crowd-sourced highlighting places to collect blackberries, mulberries, etc.[19] Most of these fruits are apples which are donated to partner organizations. A substantial portion of these fruits can no longer be consumed as food which led to an initiative with Wigle Whiskey where the foraged apples are instead turned into pommeau.[20]


The UglyCSA program allowing consumers to purchase fresh produce that has fallen short of cosmetic standards.[3]


The organization and its founders have gained widespread recognition for their efforts. Leah Lizarondo, the organization’s CEO and co-founder has taken home many accolades including: 2018 Pittsburgh Smart 50 honoree and Impact award[21], Smart Business' Person to Watch 2017[22], Jekko's Pittsburgh Personality You Should Know 2016[23], Pittsburgh City Paper's Pittsburghers of the Year.[24] 412 Food Rescue won 2nd place and $110,000 at the 2017 UpPrize, a social-innovation challenge.[25][26] It was also recognized in the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Top 50 tech innovators in the region.[27]


  1. ^ "412 Food Rescue Inc - GuideStar Profile". Guidestar. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  2. ^ a b O'Toole, Bill (September 10, 2018). "412 Food Rescue Looks to Grow and Share its Tech Nationwide". NEXTPittsburgh. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Barsotti, Scott (November 26, 2018). "412 Food Rescue Disrupts Food Waste, Hunger". Carnegie Mellon University-News. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Bash, Homa (November 29, 2018). "New app aims to stop food waste while feeding the hungry in Cleveland at the same time". ABC News Cleveland. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Smit, Debra (December 2, 2016). "412 Food Rescue mobilizes volunteers with new app". CRAIN's Pittsburgh. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  6. ^ Thomas, Ian (January 23, 2018). "412 Food Rescue app is gaining national attention". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  7. ^ Lyons, Kim (September 27, 2018). "Pittsburgh's 412 Food Rescue: 'Born digital' and growing". Technical.ly. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d Klein, Hal (March 15, 2017). "412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing". Pittsburgh Magazine. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  9. ^ Velasco, Haley (May 13, 2019). "Food's Funny-Looking Future: 'Ugly' Produce Delivery". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  10. ^ Thompson, Nigel (April 11, 2019). "Gisele Fetterman speaks softly but powerfully from her new platform as Second Lady of Pennsylvania". AL DIA News. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  11. ^ Gould, Kenny (September 30, 2016). "September 30, 2016". Civil Eats. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Gest, Jayne (December 19, 2018). "412 Food Rescue makes a big impact in Pittsburgh and beyond". Smart Business. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  13. ^ Machosky, Michael (August 11, 2015). "Volunteer group matches leftover food to those in need". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  14. ^ Carpenter, Deana (September 15, 2017). "Group that Feeds the Hungry Expands into Five Counties". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved June 3, 2019. They've been able to end food emergency calls in the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.
  15. ^ McCart, Melissa (January 25, 2019). "412 Food Rescue and other food groups ramp up aid for furloughed federal workers". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  16. ^ Sykes, Katelyn (January 24, 2019). "SNAP Recipients Worried As Partial Government Shutdown Continues". WTAE-TV. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  17. ^ Cizmas, Dana (January 7, 2017). "412 Food Rescue mobilizes volunteers with Uber-like app". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  18. ^ Waltz, Amanda (November 30, 2016). "412 Food Rescue mobilizes volunteers with Food Rescue Hero app". NEXTPittsburgh. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  19. ^ Schneider, Sarah (September 9, 2016). "Large-Scale Harvest To Find Uses For City's Fruit". WESA (FM). Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  20. ^ O'Driscoll, Bill (September 21, 2016). "412 Food Rescue takes up urban gleaning". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  21. ^ Gest, Jayne (October 25, 2018). "2018 Pittsburgh Smart 50 honorees". Smart Business. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  22. ^ Gest, Jayne (February 1, 2017). "Who to Watch: Pittsburgh". Smart Business. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  23. ^ Conner, Foo (January 6, 2016). "Pittsburgh Personalities You Should Know in 2016". Jekko. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  24. ^ Waltz, Amanda (December 19, 2018). "Pittsburghers of the Year: Leah Lizarondo and the 412 Food Rescue heroes". Pittsburgh City Paper. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  25. ^ Waltz, Amanda (April 3, 2017). "UpPrize awards $550K to winners of social innovation challenge". NEXTPittsburgh. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  26. ^ Gannon, Joyce (March 30, 2017). "BlastPoint, Economic Development South top winners in UpPrize". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  27. ^ Linder, Courtney (August 17, 2018). "Pittsburgh Technology Council announces finalists for its annual Tech 50 Awards". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved June 3, 2019.

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