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Our interview with Rescuing Leftover Cuisine's Clara Son

In the US, 40% of food is wasted, while 1 in 7 is food insecure. Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC) is a food rescue non-profit based in NYC that addresses both issues. Think Zero LLC interviewed Clara Son, Partner Outreach Associate at RLC, about how and why corporations can help fight food waste and hunger.


What is RLC's mission? 

We aim to become the world’s most widely used solution for companies to eliminate food waste in their communities, making food rescue sustainable and universal, and hunger a thing of the past. 

How does the donation process work?

RLC will arrange for our volunteers to pick up excess food from licensed food vendors on a regular, scheduled basis. There is no minimum pound requirement for a pickup, and we can come by at the time most convenient for the donating organization. We're available any day of the week, any time from 8 am - 10 pm. The food for donation should be packaged in food-safe, tightly sealed containers by the donor by the scheduled pickup time. Each month RLC will send the donor an impact report that summarizes how many pounds were donated, and where the donation was delivered to.


Note that the donations must be scheduled in advance; we are not able to accommodate day-of requests for food donation pickups. Because of our volunteer-powered model, this does not give us enough time to source a volunteer to pick up the donation.

For corporations, what are the costs and benefits of donating leftover food? 

Societal benefits
Support food-insecure members of the local community by providing meals with your donation:


  • Reduce methane gas (which is 30 times worse than CO2) that results from food waste rotting in landfills

  • Eliminate the waste of the land, water, and energy used to produce and transport uneaten food


Donor benefits

  • Enhanced tax savings through IRC Section 170(e)(3) (RLC can assist you with generating proper documentation for your accountant)

  • Manage your food waste with data sent to you monthly from RLC, with food donation amounts broken down by date

Reduce your disposal costs

  • Increase customer loyalty through your brand's association with food rescue as a social impact initiative

  • Advertise your food rescue partnership and location across RLC's 40,000+ volunteers, partner network members, newsletter subscribers, social media followers, and supporters

  • Become a media partner highlighted on local, regional, and national TV and print media



There is a fee for pickups to cover RLC’s administrative and operational costs. This fee for services will be offset by the money saved in enhanced tax deductions

How do you combat potential legal liability?

There are no recorded lawsuits related to food donation, and there are a number of federal laws that protect donors from legal liability.


The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996 is a Federal Law that protects all food donors from both Civil and Criminal liability when donating “apparently wholesome” food to non-profit organizations in “good faith” (with no malicious intent). The Food Donation Act of 2017 clarifies and expands food donation under the Emerson Act. 


For an additional layer of protection, RLC also provides a hold harmless clause in agreements with our food donors for any potential losses incurred in connection with food donation. RLC's food donation processes ensure that safe food handling and transportation meet established standards.

Who are some of your corporate and restaurant partners that donate their leftover food?

RLC works with 105 donating partners in 16 cities across the US on a recurring basis. In NYC, we receive food donations from major corporations including LinkedIn, Venmo, Warby Parker, Flow Traders, Moda Operandi, and Digital Ocean. We also receive food donations from restaurants, bakeries, and schools including Dig Inn and Breads Bakery. Visit our website to see more of our partners.

Where is the food donated?

RLC donates to a wide range of human services organizations. In addition to food pantries, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens, we deliver to family support centers, runaway youth programs, senior centers, LGBTQ resource centers, and women's shelters, among others. We are actively working with 61 recipient locations in NYC, some of the largest being NY Rescue Mission, The Bowery Mission, and The BRC.

What types of food can you donate?

Prepared food that hasn't been served or plated, self-serve items from a buffet, fresh produce, meat (fresh, chilled, or frozen), dairy products, and unopened containers of food free of damage. 

Can you define how small is okay to donate?  i.e. a weekly team breakfast that usually has five leftover bagels - is that worthy of a scheduled donation?

As mentioned, RLC does not have a minimum requirement for food donations with our service. We routinely pick up from bakeries where the donation is a few pastries or sandwiches per pickup. If this amount is worth it to the business owner to set up a food rescue partnership, then RLC will pick it up. 

How can a corporation sign up? 

Corporations can sign up by contacting RLC's Partner Outreach team or email to set up donations.

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