If you were one of countless Americans who held a little Super Bowl shindig, perhaps you went a bit overboard with the food prep.
And today, you’re left with lots of uneaten chicken wings and cold pizza in the fridge, not to mention the big bowl of spinach dip and all those bags of chips. Now imagine the amount of leftovers from the Hard Rock Stadium, which seats around 65,000 people. Add all the South Florida restaurants that started their Super Bowl events well before game day. That's an awful lot of uneaten food.
Enter Food Rescue US, a national non-profit that picks up uneaten food from restaurants, grocers and other providers and delivers it directly to local hunger relief organizations. Among the recipients: Miami Rescue Mission, Broward Outreach Center, Broward Partnership for the Homeless, Lotus House Shelter and Camillus House.
Recent studies suggest that food waste, especially in tourism-driven cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale, is worse than previously thought.
"It's really a huge problem." says Ellen Bowen, who runs the Miami chapter of Food Rescue US. "The big hotels are always hosting conferences, events. And so much of that food does end up in the landfill," she says.
Bowen, a former fashion sales and marketing executive, also runs a South Florida food blog called MIAbites. She says she turned to activism after discussions with several local chefs about wasted food.
"I said, 'Well, there has to be a solution for this.' And there wasn't," she says. So Bowen did a bit of digging and found Connecticut-based Food Rescue US.
"They had just developed an app. And that's really been the game changer for all of us," says Bowen.
The app connects volunteer drivers with donors requesting a pick-up of leftover food. The provisions are matched with a social service agency according to need. They're then dropped off directly, within 30 minutes.
The system does not, however, pick up from private citizens -- only from establishments with major kitchen and refrigeration facilities.
Bowen points out that the South Florida establishments getting on board with Food Rescue US's mission are also doing their part in fighting climate change.
"Decomposing food in landfills actually contributes more harmful methane gas to the environment than auto emissions," says Bowen. "So we're not only feeding people. We're also really helping the environment."