Rescuing Leftover Cuisine Prevents Food Waste and Feeds the Hungry

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Note: A previous spotlight article on Rescuing Leftover Cuisine was published in 2017. This article will illustrate how the organization has grown and changed since then. 

Name: Rescuing Leftover Cuisine 

What They Do: Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC) is a national nonprofit headquartered in New York City that rescues leftover food from restaurants, bakeries, and other food retailers and donates it to charities serving the hungry. The organization started with the goal of filling in the gaps left by larger food rescue organizations in NYC that could not accept smaller donations of food. They now operate throughout the continental US and can rescue any quantity of food. 

How They Do It: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, RLC’s operations have become  fully centralized. Staff working remotely throughout the US manages food pick-ups and donations to ensure that all operations are standardized. Two full-time staff members are dedicated to recruiting new donor and recipient partners, and interested potential partners can sign up online to donate or receive food. The online portal allows donating partners to see the schedule for their food pick-ups, the names of the individuals scheduled to pick up the food, as well as their own data, with trends and tax deduction information. Recipient organizations can use the portal to specify the quantities and types of food they need, which helps RLC staff members connect donors to the appropriate charities. 

Larger pick-ups can be completed by truck, while smaller food rescues are often still made by volunteers on foot, as was the original RLC model. 

Most food rescues are conducted by volunteers across the country, but when pick-ups are needed on holidays or weekend evenings, for example, RLC will pay rescuers to help. 

RLC works with a consulting company to track data and evaluate their processes.  

Mission: To redistribute excess food to people experiencing food insecurity. 

Latest project/campaign: The Food Rescue Expansion Program seeks to widen RLC’s geographic reach and operational capacity in order to best serve Americans experiencing food insecurity. 

Major Funding: The Grubhub Community Fund

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $1.6 million

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: In 2017, when the first spotlight article was published, RLC had rescued a total of 1.7 million pounds of food since 2013 and 800,000 pounds in 2017 alone. At the end of 2023, they had rescued 13 million pounds cumulatively and 3.8 million pounds in one year. 


25 Broadway
12th floor
New York, NY 10004

Core Programs: Food rescue

Number of staff: 12

Number of volunteers: 767 active rescuers in 2023

Areas served: National

Year Started: 2013

CEO: Robert Lee

Contact Information: 


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