Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED) announced that Plentiful, a digital platform improving client dignity and efficiency at food pantries in New York City, is the $100,000 prize winner of ReFED’s Nonprofit Food Recovery Accelerator.
Plentiful eliminates lines through reservations, reduces data redundancies and creates access to real-time service information so more food can be recovered and delivered effectively. Due to the support of the Walmart Foundation and in partnership with +Acumen, the three-month accelerator sent 10 nonprofit food recovery organizations through a series of virtual and in-person ReFED Learning Labs aimed at building the knowledge, network and capital needed to help double the amount of healthy food available to the 40 million food insecure Americans.
“When we started this project, we knew we had 10 diverse and unique organizations at very different stages of development offering a range of recovery solutions—all with the potential to significantly impact how much food is recovered in America,” said Alexandria Coari, director of capital and innovation at ReFED, in a statement. “Ultimately, ReFED, along with the accelerator’s world-class 50-member expert network, chose Plentiful as the $100,000 prize winner because of the organization’s innovative offering, clear proof of a scalable, replicable concept and compelling vision for using the $100,000 to create transformational change both within their own operations and the entire food recovery space.”
The $100,000 Showcase, co-hosted with Feeding America, gathered more than 125 attendees to honor all 10 cohort members, the dedicated expert network and a broad group of key stakeholders.
“The accelerator has been invaluable for helping us understand our potential,” said Rebeckah Piotrowski, director of institutional partnerships at City Harvest, New York City’s largest food rescue organization, in a statement. “When City Harvest and United Way of New York City rolled Plentiful out in our service area, we saw the impact it could have—but thinking about how to scale it across the country required hope and guidance, which we gained from the accelerator and its expert network.”
“The $100,000 will help us as we pilot Plentiful in three new markets,” she added. “New York City is a very unique place and we want to make sure the platform meets the needs of other communities. We also plan to work on integrating Plentiful into other systems that food banks and food pantries are already using to remove the burden on our platform users.”
“As the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the country, one of Feeding America’s priorities is to increase the capacity of our network member food banks and partner pantries to rescue more healthy food,” said Liz Baldridge, director of sustainability and food waste Initiatives at Feeding America, in a statement. “The growth of these 10 nonprofits in just three months is inspiring and motivates us to continue to seek out and partner with innovative organizations that can help us increase our impact for the 40 million people we serve.”
In addition to announcing the $100,000 Showcase winner, ReFED shared that it will partner with DoorDash, an on-demand food delivery platform, to launch an open call for in-kind logistics support for food recovery organizations. This is part of Project DASH, the company’s initiative to advance social good through last-mile logistics, which has already helped rescue more than 1.5 million pounds of surplus food in partnership with food recovery organizations nationwide.
“At DoorDash, we launched Project DASH to leverage our scale and logistics expertise to tackle the wasted food problem and build the capacity of food recovery organizations,” said Sueli Shaw, who leads social impact at DoorDash, in a statement. “The ReFED Accelerator Network deepened our understanding of the food recovery landscape today. We’re honored to partner with ReFED to help support the organizations driving innovation to address this important issue.”