Food Rescue US: This is their story

1.    Summarize your business in one sentence. 

Food Rescue US, a technology driven platform, is committed to ending American food insecurity through direct-transfer food rescue.

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2. How long have you been in business? 

Since 2011.

3. Why did you decide to start the company?

After seeing all the food waste in the restaurant industry, and realizing hunger could be alleviated using logistical software to capture that surplus, we developed an app and started rescuing and delivering food.

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4. What has been your biggest achievement so far? 

Rescuing and delivering 19 million meals to those in need.

5. How do you measure success?

Our technology allows us to capture and really quantify our work data so we know those 19 million meals also means 28.2 million pounds of food, at an estimated value of $48 million, has not gone into landfill. The real success though is that we have been able to provide fresh food to those in need and save a little bit of the planet as well. 

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6. What have you learned in the process? 

That this senseless problem of food insecurity in the US can and will be fixed on the grass roots level. When we all get together and help our neighbors our communities become stronger and everyone benefits.

7. What advice would you give to someone trying to start a sustainable food company?

Well they can certainly contact us if they are looking to start a food rescue program. We are expanding, we currently operate 13 sites and anticipate 25 locations by the end of 2017. We give our app to new partners, train them in best practices, etc., and help them get up and running.

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8. What’s next? Anything else you want to add?

We will continue our national expansion and work until hunger has been eradicated and all of us at Food Rescue US no longer have a job.

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9. Fun question: what was the best meal you ate this week?

Salmon and vegetables grilled and consumed lakeside at a friend’s cottage.


by Alison Sherman, Director of 
Communications at Food Rescue US 

This is their story

1.    Summarize your project/business in one sentence. 

The Urban Worm harnesses the power of vermicomposting, utilizing the humble earthworm to provide solutions in sustainable waste management and sustainable agriculture.


2. How long have you been in business/running your project?
 

Since December 2013 after being selected for the Women in Social and Environmental Enterprise program (WISEE) which provided me with a small start up grant and business model support.

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3. Why did you decide to start the company/project?

After completing my MA studies in Human Security and Environmental Change, specializing in Urban Food Security and Urban Agriculture I had to make the decision to either leave my native city (Nottingham) to find employment in my field or create an opportunity for myself and for my city, so The Urban Worm began.

Everybody of course has to eat and  building sustainable food systems will be at the heart of our ability to thrive in the face of adversity. Climate change, desertification and natural resource depletion are undermining global food security and the current corporate driven, energy intensive, unjust and chemical ridden model is neither sustainable or successfully meeting the nutritional needs of the world. We need to empower a different model that is local, organic and community driven and vermiculture provides the foundations for this movement by producing a superior organic fertilizer and compost. Worm castings are teeming with beneficial microbes essential for healthy plant growth and disease suppression with exceptional water holding capacity, perfect for urban gardens and extreme weather events which we are experiencing more of as a consequence of climate change.  The process of vermicomposting not only provides a high value by product, but the process is an efficient, low tech and cost effective system for a sustainable management of organic waste, as opposed to diverting the waste to landfill which further contribute to climate change as gases emitted from food waste are 31 times stronger than carbon dioxide.

By managing our waste at home we can make a positive contribution to building the foundations for sustainable societies and vermicomposting can be done on a very small scale, even if you live in a flat you can keep worms in your cupboard, the process is odorless and perfect for indoors.

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4. What has been your biggest achievement so far?
 

Having the opportunity to travel to learn has by far been my greatest achievement. I was awarded the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT)  travel Fellowship to research vermiculture in the USA and Cuba, and this opportunity to learn has been inspiring and is wonderful to make international connections with like minded people, building a wider community of vermicomposting enthusiasts, sharing knowledge and passion. As I  I write this I am in New York preparing for the next Cuban leg of my research. Whilst traveling the west coast I saw vermicomposting in prisons, zoos, schools, colleges, universities as well as successful businesses,  it has been incredibly inspiring and presents a blueprint for developing institutional sustainable organic waste management in the UK. This will be the next achievement, so watch this space. From Cuba the learning will be vast as Cuba is considered to be the global leader in vermicomposting as after the breakdown of the soviet union they lost 80 % of their imports of synthetic fertilizers over night and so a sustainable alternative was called for, and the organic movement began, with worms.


5. How do you measure success?

Tricky one! I guess on a personal level success is to receive love, which I never feel in short supply of! On a professional level success is having influence to make positive change, locally and globally.

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6. What have you learned in the process? 

That  worms  definitely don’t like too many apples- I had a massacre situation a few years ago after a community apple pressing day. Sad, sad day, too much acid, a lesson learned the hard way.


7. What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the worm farming industry or  simply starting a wormery at home.

Just do it, the earth needs you.  We need more worm farmers, rural and urban and the process is very easy and can be set up for a very small cost. If not for profit we need to produce as much ‘black gold’ aka worm castings as we possibly can, even if we live in an apartment we can all make a positive contribution.  What greater contribution to the world can we make but to make earth again? Even if you don’t have a garden, a gardener or community garden would be very grateful for your gift. There is an abundance of information on the internet on how to get started and I have written a worm care guide available for download for free from our website www.theurbanworm.co.uk

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8. What’s next?
 

On return from my WCMT travels, besides catching up with friends and family, and checking up on my worm culture, I will be working on a project that introduces vermicomposting into prisons in the UK. Institutions need to play a key role in practicing sustainable waste management and the USA has some incredibly successful models, notably Monroe Correctional Facility  in Washington.


9. Anything else you want to add?
 

Feed the worms, feed the soil, and feed the soul.

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10. Fun question: what was the best meal you ate this week?

Whilst visiting my family in New Jersey we went to a delicious Italian restaurant in Glen Rock called Rocca, all local and organic produce. I had a bruschetta to start and spinach gnocchi for my main, perfect!

Pictures and Survey

saynotofoodwaste.foodwaste.sustainable.happy.green.discosoupedc.together.love.happiness.communityDear Friends!

There are fresh new pictures from our second Disco Soupe DC event!
If you want to learn more about it and the organizations that took part, be sure to download the directory!

And if you were one of the lucky guests to attend the event, please fill out this quick survey and let us know what you thought! We strive to make each Disco Soupe DC better than the last and your input will help us achieve this goal.

Together we’ll build and sustain this amazing community that lowers food waste, helps people in need and celebrates art! Thank you for all your support!

Much love,
Hokuma

Disco Soupe DC – Success!

saynotofoodwaste.discosoupe.nowaste.sustainability.happy.love.life.oneworld.tristram.feeding5k.grow620 pounds of food from Mexican Fruits and MOM’s  was to be thrown away. That was until Say No To Food Waste stepped in and decided to find a better home for these produce – in the hands of clients who are homeless and hungry. To celebrate this, we invited volunteers to help us chop and bag the produce for clients of two local non-profits, Bread for the City and Food Not Bombs.

About 60 volunteers, local musicians and poets came together. Our volunteers were from all backgrounds, races and religions. Some were in the corporate sectors, others in the non-profit, and a few, were still studying. There were also those who were looking for jobs, and this platform proved to be the perfect place to network!

But beside the success of doing good, feeding those who are hungry, and saving the planet’s resources, many volunteers were moved by the atmosphere that surrounded them. A feeling of community, sharing our talents and strengths to achieve one common goal- a better world.

Yes, it is difficult to achieve. And yes, people think you are overly naive or crazy to even think such a utopian world exists. For those who think that, I hope you come to our next Disco Soupe DC, because you will find yourself with a new feeling. One of hope and possibility. And even if it lasts for a few hours, being in that moment opens doors to unlimited possibilities. A world of magic.

saynotofoodwaste.discosoupe.nowaste.sustainability.happy.love.life.oneworld.tristram.feeding5k.grow2I want to express my deep gratitude and thanks to all the organizations and artists that came to the event: The Sanctuaries, DC Timebank, Get Lucid!, and Basswood, To National Geographic for being there to film the evening and help push this taboo topic into the mainstream. And of course, my dear friend Tristram, of Feeding 5k, for taking time from his busy schedule to join the event. He said this was the best Disco Soupe he’s been to, and I couldn’t ask for a better reward!!

Organizing such events isn’t easy, but they are worth all the time that goes into them. I’m thrilled to see the community of #foodwaste conscious individuals grow in the DC area. Let’s get the word out to even more people, let’s have Disco Soupes every month or every week, until they’re no longer needed!

Thank you to all who took part! You are amazing!

With much love and many hugs!
Hokuma

Disco Soupe is the answer

forest.saynotofoodwaste.outdoor.happy.food.nofoodwaste.organic.community.together.I have some good news – there is a solution! But there’s also bad news – we got an obesity problem that keeps getting worse.

A recent BBC article stated that the number of obese individuals has surpassed 2.1 billion. That’s more than individuals facing hunger! Sadly, new research shows that: “Not only is obesity increasing, but no national success stories have been reported in the past 33 years. Urgent global action and leadership is needed to help countries to more effectively intervene.”

Seems that the world around is truly becoming one of, haves and have nots. Unfortunately, finding a solution to both problems is difficult, but not impossible. We just need stronger communities. Ones in which individuals don’t shy away from getting together with friends, and find in-person interaction more rewarding than text or Facebook messaging. Or, as the new ad on the left shows (spotted by me yesterday), a world where kids prefer their friends rather than their TVs.

discosoupe.saynotofoodwaste.organic.sustainable.healthy.happy.communitySo regarding the good news, I have a solution! More Disco Soupes DC! Yes, an event that not only helps address the have and have nots issue, an event that not only links surplus food from supermarkets to people in need, but one that makes getting together fun!

With only a small 3 hour commitment, with live local music and upbeat environment, this is the solution to the obesity problem (ok, one of the solutions)! Healthy food, a fun atmosphere, a feeling of belonging and making a difference! What can be better? I’m not sure, you tell me.

But to make this a reality for all, we need more individuals talking about such grassroots initiatives. Too many times I witnessed brilliant ideas get overlooked because they didn’t come from a famous or popular source. So my challenge to you, dear reader, is to help find amazing local organizations, companies and events that help address vital issues locally and globally, and support them! Join them, spread their message and help build a better world!

Yes, you! You can help create a better world. Just give it a try. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is. =)

With much love!
Hokuma