MealConnect reducing food waste, feeding hungry

People are going hungry, but safe, healthy food is going to waste.

In order to help cut down both of those problems, Second Harvest Food Bank is using MealConnect.

“MealConnect is a free platform developed by Feeding America to help reduce food waste, benefit the environment, and put more food on the tables of families and individuals facing hunger in America,” according to a release from Second Harvest Marketing and Media Coordinator Natalie Massing.

Second Harvest is among 200 food banks in the Feeding America network.

“MealConnect leverages the network of food banks along with the 60,000 partner pantries and feeding programs to create greater efficiencies and rescue more food,” Massing said. “MealConnect allows food businesses of all sizes, from local mom-and-pop restaurants to large chain grocery retailers, to post surplus food on the MealConnect platform.”

Once someone has told MealConnect that there is food available, the app goes to work.

“The platform then directs that rescued food immediately to Second Harvest Food Bank food pantries and meal programs that serve people in need,” she said. “An algorithm determines the best-suited local pantry or food program to pick up and distribute the donation quickly.”

“MealConnect is available to donors from any smartphone, tablet, or computer, and is free for all users,” Massing said. “Any donation made through MealConnect is tax-deductible.”

Those interested in more information or in signing up as donors may visit MealConnect.org or contact Second Harvest Rescue Coordinator Celeste Makay at (814) 459-3553 ext. 122 or cmakay@nwpafoodbank.org.

About 130 retailers and restaurants are already using the system, she said. Adding in donations from local farmers, food drives, and individuals, that food provides free meals to people served by Second Harvest and its 414 member agencies, Massing said.

“We here at Second Harvest are excited to enhance our food rescue program which began in 1982,” Second Harvest of Northwest Pennsylvania CEO Karen Seggi said. “MealConnect is an innovative way to strengthen our efforts, alleviating food waste and decreasing food insecurity.”

“In the fiscal year 2021, Second Harvest rescued almost five million pounds of food,” Massing said.

It’s a start.

“New information from ReFED, a collaboration of business, nonprofit, foundation and government leaders committed to reducing food waste in the United States, indicates that 72 billion pounds of good, safe food are wasted every year in the U.S.,” she said. “MealConnect aims to further close that gap to reduce food waste and end hunger. By connecting more donors with the Second Harvest’s network of food pantries and meal programs, MealConnect will prevent more food waste, benefit the environment and help end the hunger crisis for millions of people in America.”


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