Monday, on World Food Day, Feeding America announced the national expansion of a pilot program to rescue food, in partnership with manufacturers and their carriers on the road. Each year, 40 percent of food in the United States goes to waste. This program, known as MealConnect Logistics, has already facilitated the donation of more than 580,000 pounds of food to the Feeding America network of food banks in the pilot phase.
After partnering together for nearly four decades addressing hunger, Feeding America and General Mills joined forces last fall to get more meals to families in need. By recognizing there was food to be rescued within the delivery chain, the two organizations developed a smart solution to fight both food waste and hunger.
“This program is the definition of innovation,” says Feeding America Chief Supply Chain Officer Blake Thompson. “We’re rescuing food in an outside-the-box way and that means more meals on the plates of hungry Americans. Everybody wins.”
In piloting the program, General Mills connected Feeding America with their carriers on the road. In complex supply chains, not every delivery to a grocery store, wholesaler or food service provider is flawless. Incorrect quantities or slightly damaged packages can result in a product that is commercially unsalable, but perfectly safe to consume. When a trucker finds oneself on the road with surplus food, his carrier company utilizes MealConnect to find the nearest food bank and quickly reroutes the driver to donate the surplus food.
“We believe that good business means finding every opportunity possible to help communities in our daily processes,” says Mary Jane (Melendez) Laird, Executive Director of the General Mills Foundation. “In MealConnect Logistics, we see the perfect opportunity to partner Feeding America’s technology with our carriers and find a way to feed more hungry Americans.”
MealConnect is a technology platform developed and established by Feeding America in 2014 that prevents perfectly good food from going to waste by directing it to Feeding America food banks in real-time. The program ensures that valuable food ends up with families in need, where it can be best used.
“Each year, we distribute more than 81 million meals to Minnesotans in need,” adds Rob Zeaske, CEO of Second Harvest Heartland. “This program means that we will be able to serve even more meals and connect more families with healthy, nutritious rescued food.”
The program that began with one manufacturer will expand to manufacturers and their carriers, nationwide. Food banks around the country will benefit from the rescued food, immediately.