Rethink Food says everyone should have a seat — and a plate — at the table. This visionary nonprofit bridges the gap between food businesses and local communities, turning excess food into opportunities and nourishment for those who need it most. Since bursting onto the scene, it has changed the lives of countless individuals, serving up a staggering 15 million meals through a robust web of community alliances.
“As a cook working in restaurants, I saw firsthand the amount of perfectly good food that goes underutilized daily while people in our communities struggled with food insecurity,” Rethink Food founder Matt Jozwiak told VoyageMIA magazine. “This led me to start Rethink Food in 2017, a nonprofit with the mission to create a more sustainable and equitable food system — one that takes excess food from places like restaurants, kitchens, and corporations — to create nutritious and culturally celebrated meals for their local communities.”
Rethink Food and Community Partners
Rethink Food collaborates with a diverse array of community entities, from food banks and soup kitchens to NYC local community hubs. These dedicated partners play a pivotal role in ensuring that the meals provided by Rethink Food reach those who need them most in their respective communities.
Jozwiak sheds light on Rethink Food’s approach. ”Rethink Food exists to bridge the gap between food that goes to waste and food-waste communities. Our work is to create better connections in our food system by partnering with restaurants, food establishments, companies, and community-based organizations to use excess food and provide nutritious and culturally celebrated meals to our neighbors.”
Beyond just providing meals, Rethink Food is deeply invested in the well-being of its partners. They work hand in hand, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a wholesome meal. Additionally, Rethink Food empowers these partners with training and resources, elevating their operational efficiency and impact.
When Rethink Food partner eateries commit to preparing 50,000 meals annually, they receive a grant of $250,000 to cover costs. Rethink Food’s community partnerships have a significant impact on the lives of the people they serve. In 2022, Rethink Food provided over 40,000 meals per week to people in need through its network of community partnerships.
Lessons From Rethink Food
Rethink Food is a prime example of how community partnerships can create an equitable, sustainable food system. The organization’s success is due in large part to its strong local connections.
Here are some lessons from Rethink Food that can be applied to other food system initiatives:
— Build strong relationships with community partners. Rethink Food’s success is built on its robust relationships with local collaborators. The organization takes the time to understand the needs of its partners and to work with them to develop solutions that meet those needs.
— Be flexible and adaptable. The food system is complex and constantly changing. Rethink Food is versatile in its approach, which allows it to respond to the changing needs of its community partners and the people it serves.
— Empower community partners. Rethink Food empowers its community partners to be leaders in their own communities. The organization provides training and support to its partners to help them improve their operations and reach more people in need.
How to Get Involved
There are many ways to get involved in supporting Rethink Food and other community partnerships. You can donate money, volunteer your time, or advocate for policies that support equitable and sustainable food systems. To find out how to get involved with Rethink Food, click here: rethinkfood.org/getinvolved.