City Harvest’s Food Rescue Program

City Harvest was started in the early 1980s by a group of New York City residents who were concerned about the sizable number of fellow New Yorkers who did not have enough food to eat. The founders also noticed that New York restaurants were throwing away food that was still fit for human consumption. With the help of friends and borrowed cars they began delivering food to where it was needed. This eventually led to the launching of City Harvest in 1982.

Taking pride as the first food rescue organization in the world, City Harvest retrieves excess food from the supply chain and redistributes it to those who need it. This approach provides two solutions: it helps feed those in need while also reducing food waste.

Today, the organization’s food rescue program is facilitated by its fleet of 22 refrigerated trucks. City Harvest has more than 2,500 food donors that include restaurants, bakeries, farms, farmer’s markets, and corporate cafeterias. City Harvest has a food rescue facility in Long Island City with an area of 45,400 square feet. The space houses a large freezer and cooler, which serve as holding locations for the collected food until it is delivered.

In 2016, the organization will recover 55 million pounds of surplus food and assist in feeding close to 1.4 million New Yorkers in need through over 500 community food program across New York City. Since its inception, City Harvest has retrieved and delivered more than 545 million pounds of food as well as prevented the production of more than half a million metric tons of greenhouse gas.

About the author

Isabel Harris Eide

An undergraduate psychology student at the University of Miami in Florida, Isabel Harris Eide has been involved in charity work since high school. During her senior year, Isabel Harris Eide volunteered for City Harvest.


Volunteering with New York’s City Harvest

Mobile Markets and Greenmarket Rescues are two initiatives of the organization in which volunteers can help get food to those in need. Mobile Markets volunteers meet from 8:45 a.m. to noon in one of five locations throughout New York City to hand out free produce in a farmers market setting. Volunteers with Greenmarket Rescues collect excess food donations from vendors at Greenmarket and load them into a City Harvest truck.

Repack assistants meet at the organization’s facility in Long Island and assist in repacking bulk produce donations into family-sized portions for distribution at soup kitchens and food pantries.

About the author

Isabel Harris Eide

Isabel Harris Eide, a student of psychology at University of Miami, has been an active volunteer for City Harvest. The New York City organization collects excess food from restaurants, grocers, and manufacturers, and delivers it to food programs throughout the city. As a volunteer, Isabel Harris Eide assisted in delivering food to those in need, but there are several other ways a person can volunteer with City Harvest as well.