By Van Tieu Apr. 25, 2019
The Dig Inn kitchen on West 38th street springs to life every morning as chicken and tofu sizzle on the grill and staff dress up locally sourced vegetables. There are many customers to feed, but the morning routine will also feed those who struggle with hunger thanks to a service offered by two startups in the city.
Like clockwork, Diego Gerena-Quinones of Cargo Bike Solutions stops in to pick up last night’s leftovers.
It’s typically a dozen trays of unused food in the refrigerator that’s still safe to eat, but a waste to throw out.
“This is nice fresh food that someone is really going to get to enjoy and were really proud of that,” said Will Hackeman, the Dig Inn manager.
It’s Gerena-Quinone’s job to deliver the donation to a food pantry in less than 20 minutes. A challenge in the city’s congested streets, but he gets around it with zero-emissions.
“This is a cargo bike that I use to do deliveries in Manhattan including the food rescues,” he said. “This frees up the rider to do high-volume work.”
Diego can bypass traffic with as much as 400 pounds in tow. In the last two-and-half years, a handful of couriers like him have rescued 340 tons of edible food that would have otherwise ended up in landfills for the non-profit, Transfer Nation which operates an on demand food rescue platform.
“[[Cargo Bikes are]] a complete game changer. It so fast. It’s so efficient, and we wouldn’t be able to operate without them,” said Hannah Dehradunwala, Co-founder of TransferNation.
The idea for food rescue on demand grew out of guilt seeing wasted food at school events while she was a student at New York Universtiy a few years ago.
Entities from restaurants to corporate cafeterias and film sets generate tons of excess prepared food every week. Yet more than a million New Yorkers cannot afford to eat three square meals a day.
“What’s ridiculous to me is the amount of shelters that can actually make use of this food and actually incorporate into their feeding programs,” said Dehradunwala.
The young, award-winning entrepreneur and her team are building a model that peddles leftover food from restaurants, cafeterias, and events into to shelters and living wage jobs. The companies also get a tax-write off. Transporters, like Gerena-Quinones, get a 70% cut of the food rescue service fee.
“This is one of the most fulfilling things I have done with my life,” said Gerena-Quinones.
He said nothing beats arriving at his destination. On this day, he delivers to the Sylvia Rivera Food Pantry, which has doubled the number of people they feed, with the addition of high quality, nutritious food he delivers.
One woman visiting the pantry said one container will feed her for days.
The young New Yorkers said they envision a future where food doesn’t end up in landfills, but fills the bellies of those most in need. That’s why they’re fundraising to add five more cargo bikes to Gerena-Quinones’ fleet through a crowdsourcing campaign.
“The goal of that is to create more Diegos,” Dehradunwala said. With more couriers on the street who can quickly deliver perishable food, Dehradunwala believes her organization’s partnership with Gerena-Quinones will help make a dent in the city’s food waste problem and create greater food equality.
“It’s bringing people from drastically different walks of life to the same plate because they deserve to be at the same plate and that’s how it should be,” she said.
Two Startups are Rescuing Food on Demand Using Cargo Bikes – ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news
By Van Tieu Apr. 25, 2019 The Dig Inn kitchen on West 38th street springs to life every morning as chicken and tofu sizzle on the grill and staff dress up locally sourced vegetables. There are many customers to feed, but the morning routine will also feed those who struggle with hunger thanks to a… [Read More]