Hungry? Did you know that up to 40 percent of food produced in our country won’t ever be eaten? And what’s more, almost all — nearly 95 percent — of that waste is destined to end up layering a landfill. Our state contributes to around 18 percent of that total, despite the fact that one in 10 residents across Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, and Ulster counties are considered food insecure (and they’re just one bite of New York!).
Last October, a few of our area’s forward-thinking social organizations — including Hudson Valley Regional Council (HVRC), Dutchess Outreach, Feedback, Dutchess County Division of Solid Waste, and Rescuing Leftover Cuisine — rallied together to put on the inaugural Feeding the Hudson Valley event, in which they took over the Poughkeepsie entrance to the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park to cook and serve over 1,000 free meals made entirely from produce gleaned from local farms or otherwise “rescued.”
Not only was the operation a great success, but an innovative new effort has emerged in its wake.
Sometime within the next few months, the Community Foundation of the Hudson Valley (in partnership with HVRC) will be releasing FeedHV, a web and mobile app designed to link donors of fresh produce and other prepared-but-unserved food to nonprofits with culinary-based assistance programs (food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and the like).
The system is implemented via a network of volunteers who glean, process, and transport the donations, thanks to a software called ChowMatch, which uses fancy matching technology to connect suppliers with surplus food to various outreach organizations. With the app’s help, farms, restaurants, grocery stores, universities, and other contributors will be able to streamline the donation process down to a simple, one-time registration and management that can be done on the go. Or, you know, wherever the internet can be found.
There is absolutely zero fee to participate (in fact, because suppliers don’t have hire someone to haul their waste away, it often leads to a valuable cost reduction). Donors are automatically linked to recipients by the app, which then sends an email request with a set window of time, location, and any special handling instructions gets sent out to all volunteers within a radius of the participants in question. The first one to jump at the opportunity is chosen, and further details are provided. Volunteers collect and hand off, and both parties rate the process in an effort to continuously improve the experience.
The app — which will cover Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Putnam, Columbia, Sullivan, and Greene counties — is not live in the mid-Hudson just yet, but you can sign up now to donate, volunteer, or be on the receiving end of this progressively delicious program.
(Psst, more good news: the second annual Feeding the Hudson Valley has been confirmed for Saturday, October 7, same time, same place.)