There's a beacon of hope in a world where food waste is rampant and hunger persists. Enter Robert Lee, the CEO and co-founder of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC).
In a recent episode of "The 360 on Energy and Carbon" podcast, Lee delves deep into the mission and mechanics of RLC.
Lee's journey began with a simple realization during his college days: a significant amount of food from dining halls was being wasted. This realization, combined with his personal experiences growing up in a family that faced food insecurity, fuelled his passion to make a difference. He co-founded RLC, an organization that bridges the gap between excess food from businesses and those in need.
Contrary to popular belief, donating excess food isn't illegal. RLC has been operating since 2013, rescuing food from restaurants, catering companies and other food businesses, and delivering it to homeless shelters and food pantries. The process is streamlined, efficient and safe, ensuring food quality is maintained throughout.
What’s in it for the businesses?
Beyond the obvious moral incentive, there are tangible benefits. Donating excess food can lead to enhanced tax deductions, reduced waste disposal costs and positive public relations. As consumers become more environmentally conscious, businesses that donate excess food resonate better with their values.
The podcast episode sheds light on the intricate logistics behind RLC's operations. With over 10,000 volunteers, 15 staff members, and operations in nine locations across the U.S., the organization relies heavily on technology to coordinate pickups and deliveries. Their proprietary platform allows food donors to track their donations, view trends and even calculate potential tax deductions.
One of the most striking takeaways from the episode is the sheer scale of food waste. Astonishingly, if only one-third of the wasted food in the U.S. was rescued, it would be enough to eliminate food insecurity in the country. The same principle applies globally.
In conclusion, RLC isn't just about saving food and reshaping societal norms and values. It's a call to action for businesses, communities and individuals to recognize the power they hold in their hands three times a day to make a difference. So, the next time you're about to toss out leftovers, think of RLC and the impact you could make.
Tune into the full podcast episode to dive deeper into this inspiring initiative and discover how you can play a part in reducing food waste and alleviating hunger.
- Robert Lee, CEO and co-founder of RLC. With a bachelor’s degree at the Stern School of Business at New York University and a career in finance at various Wall Street firms, Robert Lee left finance to grow RLC. When Robert first started in the food rescue space in 2009, the common misconception was donating food was illegal. RLC has been providing food rescue services since 2013 and is headquartered in New York City. RLC was incubated by Blue Ridge Labs at the Robin Hood Foundation and since then has expanded across the nation. In addition, Lee has been honored as an Obama Leader USA, Gates Millennium Scholar, CNN Hero, Forbes 30 Under 30 for Social Entrepreneurship, NYC Food Policy 40 Under 40 and Youth Action Net Fellow.
- David Arkell, president and CEO of 360 Energy
- John Pooley, vice-president of program development at 360 Energy
- Lysandra Naom, executive producer of The 360 On Energy and Carbon Podcast