Committed to fighting food waste and hunger, Pittsburgh-based 412 Food Rescue has become one of the fastest-growing food recovery organizations in the U.S.
Now Pittsburgh International Airport, in a partnership with its concessionaire, Fraport USA, is stepping up to help by providing twice-weekly donations collected from airport food vendors to the 412 program.
“It’s outstanding. Everything that comes to us we appreciate, because there’s always more than one person in our community that can use it,” said Tonya Bennett, resident council president for Groveton Village in Coraopolis, part of the Allegheny County Housing Authority.
Groveton, which houses local low-income families, among others, was the first location to receive a food donation from the airport.
“When I looked at the things that were sent to us, they were fresh – the fruits, the sandwiches, everything was awesome. I couldn’t believe the amount that was sent,” Bennett said. “It was greatly appreciated.”
Volunteers from the local nonprofit began collecting food from PIT on Sept. 14 and will make visits to the airport on Wednesdays and Fridays.
With more than 30 restaurants throughout its Landside and Airside terminals, the airport will be able to re-purpose excess food from its concessions that would likely end up in a landfill, said Samantha Stedford, airport senior analyst of strategic initiatives.
“Partnering with 412 Food Rescue is one way we’re supporting the community we serve,” Stedford said. “We’re proud to be part of this program that provides food security to community members who might otherwise go hungry.”
Surplus food donated by the airport’s participating restaurants is refrigerated and stored in the Landside Terminal for food rescue volunteers each week. Volunteers then deliver the food to nonprofits serving residents in Imperial, Moon and surrounding areas via the 412 Food Rescue mobile app, which displays locations in need of donations on a map.
Food Rescue serves about 400 food donor sites and works with more than 500 nonprofit organizations. For Leah Lizarondo, co-founder and CEO of 412 Food Rescue, partnering with PIT will be a chance to ensure viable food from airport restaurants doesn’t go to waste.
“… One in seven of us do not know where our next meal is coming from,” Lizarondo said. “We cannot stand blindly on the side and feed landfills better than we are feeding people.”
The airport’s quick-serve restaurants that offer pre-packaged goods, including The Strip Market, Chick-Fil-A, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, will donate regularly, providing an estimated 100 meals per week.
PIT’s sit-down restaurants, including Penn Brewery and TGI Friday’s, will donate when they have excess food to offer, according to the airport’s Manager of Revenue Development Maria Kim, who was involved in coordinating the partnership.
Kim added that working with 412 Food Rescue not only allows the airport to serve the community, but it is also an opportunity to focus on sustainability.
“We aren’t wasting very much,” Kim said. “We are hoping that, by participating in this program, the airport will enhance its sustainability mindset and make donating excess food a regular routine.”