Feeding America launches new challenge to address food insecurity

Posted: 1 July 2024 | | No comments yet

Feeding America’s Food Rescue Challenge will directly address the heightened levels of food insecurity across the US by encouraging increased levels of food rescue.

Feeding America launches new challenge to address food insecurity

Feeding America, the largest food rescue organisation in the US, is inviting the public to join its Food Rescue Challenge to secure five billion pounds of food rescued annually, an additional one billion pounds than is currently recovered each year. The challenge will directly address heightened levels of food insecurity across the country and ensure that wholesome food is used to fill fridges, not landfills.

“It’s time to double down. We find it wholly unacceptable that, in a nation that wastes increasing amounts of fresh, nutritious food, people are experiencing food insecurity at near-record rates,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO for Feeding America. “At a time when it feels like so many things are outside our control, food rescue does not need to be one of these things. In fact, we, as a nation, have the power to do more than one good thing at a time.” 

With 44 million people, including more than 13 million children, experiencing food insecurity in 2022, food banks are still experiencing record levels of demand. In Feeding America’s most recent survey of food banks, 85% of responding food banks reported seeing demand for food assistance increase or stay the same in April 2024 compared to March 2024. Food rescue – defined as the practice of collecting perfectly good, wholesome food that would otherwise go to waste – provides one of the most immediate opportunities to address this urgent need. 

Feeding America’s Food Rescue Challenge will inspire this work, while creating an opportunity for partnerships with the food industry, agricultural producers, lawmakers and other food rescue groups focused on long-term solutions to ensure that people facing hunger have access to food and resources. To help catalyse the challenge, Feeding America has established a new Food Rescue Fund.

The fund’s goal is to raise $50 million annually, to scale and establish new and deeper partnerships between food manufacturers, retailers, farmers, other strategic partners and the Feeding America network of more than 200 food banks and 60,000 agency partners. 

The funds will be used to support several keys areas of the organisation’s work, including: increasing the availability of the most-requested foods like fresh produce, protein and dairy; expanding MealConnect, the organisation’s national food-sourcing and sharing platform; helping the network of food banks and food pantries develop plans for sourcing sustainable local products; subsidising freight for donated food; and expanding the ability to rescue food donations from local grocery stores.

“As a national food rescue organisation that touches tens of millions of people in the US annually, Feeding America has a responsibility to spotlight this critical issue and contribute in new and innovative ways,” said Erika Thiem, Chief Supply Chain Officer for Feeding America. “Today, many organisations have joined the movement to end hunger, and with that comes new opportunities to collaborate. Consider this a call to action to help secure more food, right now, for people facing hunger.”

Guiding the work will be an advisory group that includes longtime leaders in the Feeding America network – former Conagra CEO and former Feeding America Board Chair Gary Rodkin, and Gwendolyn Sontheim, philanthropist and Feeding San Diego founder and board chair. 

The Food Rescue Fund has been founded with generous lead gifts from General Mills, Starbucks and Gary and Barbara Rodkin.

“We’re proud to continue our more than 40-year legacy of supporting Feeding America to alleviate hunger and ensure no good food goes to waste,” said Mary Jane Melendez, Chief Sustainability and Global Impact Officer at General Mills. “No one company or organisation can tackle this challenge alone. It takes all of us coming together to create lasting change.”

“For the last 50 years and still today, Starbucks believes that it is our role and responsibility to contribute positively to the communities that we serve. We operate and invest in initiatives that increase equitable access to nutritious food. Through our FoodShare programme, we rescue Starbucks food from US company-operated stores, build food bank capacity and address food insecurity through partnerships such as Feeding America to uplift communities. We are proud to expand on our work with Feeding America in this united mission,” said Kelly Goodejohn, Starbucks Chief Social Impact Officer.

The launch of the fund is Feeding America’s next momentous step that builds on the organisation’s first Food Rescue Convening in December 2023, which brought together nearly 40 CEOs and social impact executives from food industry leaders including Walmart, Sam’s Club, The Kroger Company, Starbucks, Conagra Brands, General Mills and Food Lion.

Already, Feeding America works closely with retailers, food manufacturers, foodservice and agri-companies to help divert nearly four billion pounds of excess food from landfills annually and route it through the organisation’s network of food banks and agency partners.

By continuing to innovate with supporters like Walmart, Feeding America’s largest food donor, and the Walmart Foundation’s transformational support of food banks and agency partners through the Retail Agency Capacity grant program, Feeding America aspires to raise the food rescue stakes to ensure everyone has access to the food they need to thrive.

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