A food rescue movement is making its way around the City of Wichita.
ICT Food Rescue is a volunteer organization dedicated to ending food insecurity by saving fresh, usable food that otherwise would have ended up in the trash and giving it to food insecure families and nonprofit organizations in Wichita.
“It’s a really grassroots organization that looks to donors in our community, anyone who produces food or has food,” said ICT Food Rescue marketing team member Shelby Kennedy. “We find people who have food and have too much food. We pick it up and we take it to anyone who needs it.”
The volunteers are food runners, per say. Once a donor or restaurant steps up with left over food or food it can no longer serve, the runners are notified via the Food Rescue US app.
“So all the people in here are like your Uber drivers. They are the ones that can go and pick it up,” Kennedy explained. “The app will tell you how to get there, what time to be there, if you need to have directions about who to contact or, you know, honk your horn three times to let them know you’re here.”
The app also tracks how much food was transferred to each location.
Terry Atwater is the CEO of It Takes a Village, a nonprofit that provides at-risk youth with a structured place to call home. His organization uses the ICT Food Rescue service several times a week.
“My thing for them is to understand what a blessing they are to somebody else to take it out of their own time. We have people who do it on their lunch hours. They will actually give up their lunch hours to bring food over to our kids,” Atwater said.
It Takes a Village receives protein-packed meals, pastries, sandwiches and bread from restaurants like Panera Bread and Starbucks thanks to ICT Food Rescue. Atwater said the service has been instrumental in feeding the nonprofit’s youth.
“I would say, right now, that’s probably cutting our food budget by about 60, 65 percent,” Atwater said. “It really helps during the school year where the kids can get up in the morning, throw a sandwich in the microwave and head out the door to catch the bus. So that’s been beneficial because we know that they aren’t going to school hungry.”
“It’s really rewarding to see, one, that we are making food not get thrown away, but also to see people receive it,” Kennedy said.
Right now, ICT Food Rescue saves about 120 pounds of food from going to the trash each week. Kennedy said they’re hopeful that number will continue to grow.
“Our ultimate goal would be to completely eliminate food waste and hunger at the same time. We know that that may not be able to happen at the same time, but we hope to first of all reduce food waste and not have that happen anymore, but also get people involved in the process so that people can see what it takes to be a consumer in our society and what we can do to make that more efficient.”