Robert Lee is a 24-year-old from New York. He gave up his job, and now he is making a difference in the world.
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Lee is the co-founder of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC), an organization that is making an effort to end hunger by collecting food from large establishments and giving it away to the poor.
Lee’s interest in conserving food stem from his Korean immigrant parents who always insisted on clean plates and taught him never to waste food. He volunteered for Two Birds, One Stone in his college years. They would deliver dining hall food to homeless shelters.
Lee and his colleagues go around the streets of New York City collecting bags of food from restaurants that are willing to donate what they would have otherwise thrown away. The team collects anywhere between 5 and 120 pounds of food a day. After they collect the food, they immediately deliver it to a homeless shelter.
The plan sounds simple enough, but there’s more behind what the RLC team does. They collect and deliver food, and they also record every detail of every item that is donated. This data is used to help the restaurant partners understand how they can simplify the donation process. The RLC can be used as a business model for this type of charity to be implemented all over the world.
The RLC’s mission is to become a solution for companies and individuals to eliminate food waste in their communities. So many people can be helped by utilizing food waste of restaurants.
The RLC Web site says they “localize the issues into sets of communities that can help sustain themselves,” “leverage technology to facilitate the identification and handling of excess food,” and “tackle food waste at its root, aiming to eliminate as much food waste as possible and bringing the remaining excess food to where it is needed most.”
They say that food providers will be able to use a smartphone app to report when they have a surplus of food. The same app can be used by volunteers to go and pick up the food. The data gathered from the app can help pinpoint when food waste occurs so that it can be avoided in the future.
Lee co-founded RLC with Louisa Chen. RLC is spreading across the country, with branches soon to pop up in Los Angeles, Albany, San Francisco, and Miami. The RLC team is committed to ending hunger and minimizing food waste.