Philly Food Rescue was established by Uplift Solutions in November of 2018 to help address the disconnect between food supply and food access. The goal of the program was to rescue food from consumer facing businesses, and directly distribute it to local nonprofits that serve food insecure communities. By utilizing a powerful app developed by Food Rescue Hero, Philly Food Rescue was able to hit the ground running. The app facilitated a program where volunteers would use their personal vehicles to directly pick up from food donors and deliver to nonprofit partners. The Philly Food Rescue staff developed relationships with food donors (grocery stores, convenience stores, caterers, restaurants, etc.) and nonprofit partners (public housing, assisted living, community centers, etc.) that would be able to quickly utilize the food donations. They also built a volunteer network throughout the Philadelphia region. Through the app, volunteers were connected to food rescues near them, allowing Philly Food Rescue to place donated food in the hands of nonprofit partners feeding the hungry within minutes. Philly Food Rescue not only reduced food waste, but made food more accessible, minimized carbon emissions, and promoted volunteerism. The direct delivery system negated the distance between at-risk communities and healthy food sources, eliminated the need to use large, environmentally harmful trucks as a means of transportation, kept food out of landfills, and created human connection between our partners and participants.
When Philly Food Rescue was starting out in 2018, the program averaged 20,000 pounds of food rescued per month. That steadily increased to 35,000 pounds per month in 2019. While that growth was extremely positive, our largest impact came during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, where Philly Food Rescue rescued over 130,000 pounds of food per month at a time where food insecurity was rising rapidly.
Uplift Solutions leadership and board began to recognize that Philly Food Rescue could grow far more, and have a much larger impact, if it were housed within an organization that is focused on food insecurity. Share Food Program, the largest food bank and hunger relief organization in the Philadelphia region, was a natural choice.
On July 1, 2021, Uplift Solutions transitioned Philly Food Rescue to Share Food Program. Acquiring Philly Food Rescue allowed Share to grow distribution and logistical capabilities by allowing donors to make impromptu and recurring food donations, decreasing the pounds diverted to landfills, significantly increasing last mile distribution capabilities for both site and home delivery, and supporting instant expansion into new territories. Philly Food Rescue will continue to grow exponentially under Share Food Program and make a massive impact on food insecurity in the Greater Philadelphia area.
Uplift Solutions is incredibly proud to have rescued over 2.6 million pounds of food with Philly Food Rescue, all of which was given directly to the food insecure, and Uplift looks forward to seeing all that Philly Food Rescue will accomplish under Share. While the transition of the program has been bittersweet, the change allows Uplift Solutions to focus on expanding our workforce and restorative justice programming that is critical to the fight against poverty and recidivism.