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Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and the GCRF

The organization, which has received support from the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, is working to redefine the food rescue process and provide meals to those in need.

Each month, we’ll be sharing stories of our Grubhub Community Relief Fund beneficiaries, highlighting how they are using their grants to positively impact their communities. The first organization we’re spotlighting is Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC), a food rescue non-profit headquartered in New York City with 12 branches nationwide. RLC’s mission is to reduce wasted food, alleviate hunger and preserve the environment by utilizing their unique software along with their network of volunteer “Rescuers.”

Grubhub + RLC

With support from the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, RLC purchases meals from Black-owned restaurants that are then donated to food insecure students and their families. Additionally, Grubhub’s support through this initiative allowed RLC to expand its “sponsor a meal” service to Boston. With our restaurant partners also facing hardships due to COVID-19 and reduced in-person dining capacity, this initiative not only allows RLC to continue providing meals to those served by human service agencies who need it the most, but it also provides local restaurants an opportunity to remain active and receive revenue from the meals purchased by RLC while navigating the current pandemic safety measures.

How it all started

RLC was founded in 2013 by Robert Lee (who now serves as CEO) and Louisa Chen following their involvement in a club at New York University which rescued leftover food from campus dining halls and delivered it to nearby homeless shelters. Currently, RLC Rescuers transport leftover food from their partner businesses to human service agencies who provide food to those in need across the nation. Through this model, RLC strives to redefine the food rescue process while engaging and mobilizing communities to become more food efficient and providing financial solutions for our business partners.

Since its inception, RLC has never stopped growing: RLC rescued over 1 million pounds of food in 2018, over 1.6 million pounds in 2019 and over 2.5 million pounds is projected in 2020. The organization has provided more than  2 million meals [so far this year] for the hungry that would have been wasted amid the backdrop of COVID-19, the recession and protests in many cities.

RLC’s Work Today

In light of current pandemic measures, places like Boston and New York are seeing new demographics become food insecure. Additionally, residents who were already struggling before COVID-19 are now suffering from greater financial hardship and reduced access to nutritious food, leading to mental and physical health risks. Consequently, food insecurity has risen over 300% in places like Boston and NYC, and local municipalities are increasingly relying on non-profits such as RLC to facilitate state-sponsored meal programs.

One of these state-sponsored meal programs is RLC’s Massachusetts (RLCMA) Serving Our Students initiative (SOS!). The SOS! initiative began when several staff members of Boston Public Schools reached out to RLC during the first few weeks of the pandemic with the same request: “Please help our students and their families.”

Among the families served by RLCMA’s SOS! initiative are a single mother and her daughter, a third grade student. The mother is immunocompromised and cannot safely rely on public transportation; and her daughter is doing remote learning and therefore doesn’t receive the school lunches that would normally be relied upon. RLC volunteers deliver meals to this family 1-2 times per week, including meals from Irie Jamaican Style Restaurant, thanks to Grubhub’s partnership. Since RLCMA started delivering their meals in May, this mother and daughter have received nearly 200 free and healthy meals and will continue to receive more meals over the coming months. 

RLC provides an opportunity for people of all ages to do big work in little time. Thanks to the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, RLC volunteers are transporting more than 1,200 meals every week to those in need in Boston and New York City. To date, more than 10,000 meals have been donated to recipients in both cities. 

Want to donate directly to Rescuing Leftover Cuisine? Donate now

Local non-profits that are receiving food donations from RLC include: NYCHA Melrose Houses, NYCHA Morrisania Houses, Individual Boston Public School Families, Queens Together, NYC Neighborhood Coalition Shelter, Geneva Elderly Housing, Mattapan Center, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, Upham’s Corner Health Center, Cambridge Family & Children’s Service, and the St. Ambrose Family Shelter.