Feeding America is using MealConnect, its free, easy-to-use website for retailers to donate wholesome surplus food directly to local network food banks and pantries, to launch a campaign showing food retailers how rescuing food is easy and simple.
The campaign theme of simplifying food rescue presents a fresh call to action for food retailers to donate surplus food items through MealConnect’s convenient process as the platform nears a milestone of 3 billion pounds of rescued food, which translates to approximately 2.5 billion meals. Launched in 2017 by Feeding America, a food rescue organization, MealConnect has connected retailers with 10,200 nonprofit partners to coordinate more than 7.2 million pickups to date.
According to a report released by the National Grocers Association (NGA) in June, independent grocery sales make up 33% of total grocery sales, up from 25% a decade ago, and sales at independent grocery stores grew nearly 94% from 2012. With increased market share, growing industry sales and a workforce of 1.1 million, the independent grocery sector is well-positioned to impact food insecurity at a much larger scale than ever before. According to discussions between small and independent food retailers and Feeding America, limited time and staffing can pose the biggest threat to rescuing food. MealConnect solves resourcing problems, strengthens community relationships to address food insecurity and saves time for employees.
“Reaching 3 billion pounds of food rescued through MealConnect is a testament to the progress that’s been made; however, it’s only a fraction of the consumable, good food that is wasted every year,” said Tony Pupillo, managing director of retail food industry partnerships at Feeding America. “Through our new campaign, we’re hoping to reach more independent retailers to show how easy it is to conduct ongoing food rescue through MealConnect, work with their community to nourish their neighbors facing hunger and reduce food insecurity.”
MealConnect’s process to rescue food from independent retailers is broken out into three simple steps:
- Retailers share surplus food items to the platform using a mobile device or desktop to initiate the donation.
- Then, MealConnect’s algorithm offers the donation to community food banks and pantries.
- Once a food bank or pantry accepts, the retailer receives an email confirming pickup time. The local Feeding America food bank is on call to support and ensure everything is handled safely and quickly.
“MealConnect makes it easy to donate that food to folks who need it the most,” said Jordan Troyer, owner of Troyer’s at Mountain View Country Market in Limestone, Tenn. “Every food business thinks about reducing waste. Whether you’re a small restaurant or a large-scale operation, at the end of the day you have wholesome surplus food that could go to people in need.”
Retailers that use MealConnect also receive support in the form of a tax benefit calculator and food donation safety guidelines.
Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, Feeding America provide meals to more than 40 million people each year.