Agape Food Rescue Prepares Meals from Donated Food for Food-Insecure Individuals in NYC

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
Agape Food Rescue

Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: Agape Food Rescue

What They Do: Agape Food Rescue recovers food that would otherwise be discarded and repurposes it into meals to feed people in need. The organization was founded by Jeanette Lugo when she retired from the Marine Corps. She had participated in food rescue work during her time in the military, and after retiring, she wanted to continue helping to feed her community in East New York. She volunteered at various food pantries but realized that food pantries do not work for everyone. Many individuals accessing food pantry services, such as the homeless or migrants living in hotels, do not have kitchens to prepare meals with the raw ingredients. At the same time, Jeanette also noticed her friend, a supermarket owner, throwing out food that was still safe to eat. She started contacting supermarkets, bakeries, and other food retailers to take their leftover food, and she uses it to cook meals to donate to churches and other organizations that served community members in need. 

Today, more than 60 different businesses donate food to Agape. The food is used to prepare meals that are then given to food pantries and other organizations that support the homeless and migrant population, and meals are also used to stock community fridges. Agape also provides “wild bags” containing various donated food ingredients to local school food pantries for parents to take home and cook. 

How They Do It: Agape is a completely volunteer-run organization. People who have benefited from Agape’s donated meals, including veterans at a homeless shelter that Agape serves, often come to the organization to give back as volunteers.

Retailers who hear about Agape’s services through word-of-mouth contact the organization to schedule food pick-ups. Pick-ups and meal deliveries are made using an old ambulance that was donated to the cause, or volunteers may also use their own vehicles or U-Haul trucks that are provided at an extreme discount. 

Donated food is brought to Agape’s Brownsville, Brooklyn, location, where Jeanette and other “community chef” volunteers cook meals with whatever is provided. Recipes are determined based on the food that is available, often relying on internet searches to figure out how to use the ingredients on hand cohesively. 

Mission: To serve the community, one kindness at a time. 

Latest project/campaign: Agape does not ask for monetary donations, but has begun encouraging individuals who wish to support the organization to purchase food through Instacart and have it delivered directly to them at 69 Belmont Avenue in Brooklyn. Jeanette suggests purchasing a 50-pound bag of rice, which is relatively inexpensive (around $30) and can be used as the base for a large quantity of meals, but other food donations are also welcome and appreciated. 

Major Funding: Brooklyn Borough President, anonymous donor

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $50,000 to $100,000

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: Agape helps prevent food waste while also supporting food-insecure individuals and families throughout New York City. Instead of giving individual ingredients for recipients to prepare on their own, Agape creates a seamless process by assembling and cooking the meals first. The organization serves many underrepresented populations, including those experiencing homelessness, veterans, and the LGBTQ community.  


69 Belmont Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11212

Core Programs: Food rescue, food donation, meal service

Number of staff: 0

Number of volunteers: 63

Areas served: New York City

Year Started: 2015

Program Director: Jeanette Lugo

Contact Information: Phone: (718) 502-1928 | Email: 

Learn More: 

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