Apr. 28, 2017 11:36 am

During the NFL Draft and beyond, food rescue isn’t a ‘one-organization solution’

On day two of the NFL Draft in Philly, Megha Kulshreshtha offers some insight into why she thinks Food Connect is just one part of a bigger solution.

Don't mind if I do.

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It’s day two of the NFL Draft in Philly and with a record crowd of more than 100,000 people from all over the country attending the first day, it looks like things may ramp up from here.

With that many people in one city for three days, traffic shouldn’t be our only concern, as bad as it may be. Waste, particularly food waste, is also something to worry about. Thankfully, our city has a plan to combat that issue.

That plan includes the NFL partnering with Food Connect Group, the nonprofit from Megha Kulshreshtha that includes a platform for donating food leftovers and reducing food waste altogether. An estimated 10,000 pounds of food from vendors and local restaurants is expected to be collected and donated around Philly when all is said and done this weekend.

Food Connect Group has been on a roll lately, partnering with the bigger events happening around Philly, including the Democratic National Convention last July and the Super Bowl, for which Kulshreshtha came out with an app to encourage people to donate those leftover party wings.

But remember, Kulshreshtha also has a full-time job. We had to wonder: How the heck is she handling all of this work?

For starters, Kulshreshtha said in an email that Food Connect, which officially became a nonprofit last year, is still a passion project for her and she needs to “maintain a job to be able to pay my bills.”

Even up to the DNC, she said she was paying for everything out of pocket and was personally driving the all-important deliveries from restaurants to places of need, in addition to some volunteers and paid drivers.

But as Food Connect and its work continues to get attention, help seems to be trickling in: Last November, the Leo & Peggy Pierce Family Foundation gave Kulshreshtha a small grant that allowed the organization to keep up with all the demand.

“To maintain future sustainability, it’ll be a combination of partners, volunteers, grants and donations,” she said.

Besides the financial support though, Kulshreshtha is a full believer in combatting an issue like food waste with the power of Philly orgs working together, as could be seen with Food Connect’s part in creating Operation Food Rescue for the NFL Draft.

Here are all the partners:

  • NFL
  • Philabundance
  • Philadelphia Office of Special Events
  • City of Philadelphia Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet
  • The Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity
  • Share Food Program
  • Coalition Against Hunger
  • Food Policy Advisory Council
  • Philadelphia Streets Department
  • Chemical Heritage Foundation
  • Leo & Peggy Pierce Family Foundation

“I see [Food Connect Group] as an extension of existing food rescue efforts in the city,” Kulshreshtha said. “We simply want to make it easier for organizations to donate extra food and for organizations to work together to tag-team the effort. I don’t believe in a ‘one organization’ solution to food rescue. I believe food waste is a big problem and if we leverage technology in a smart way and work together, then we can collectively make a great impact.”


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