Food to the Rescue. How an Innovative Program is Helping Delawareans
It’s a disturbing fact. One out of ten Delawareans will go without a meal each day, and worse, that statistic includes one in seven children.
There is a new program that is addressing this issue, and they are looking for volunteers to spearhead these efforts.
Bayhealth Medical Group, one of the largest healthcare systems in Delaware has initiated a program called “302 Food Rescue Hero.” Here’s how it works.
Millions of pounds of perfectly palatable food are wasted every year. Grocery stores are perpetually stocking their shelves, and restaurants are using their latest deliveries. What happens to their inventory? Usually, it makes its way to the landfill while thousands of people go needlessly hungry.
Food insecurity is unfortunately on the rise in Delaware, according to the Food Bank of Delaware, headquartered in Milford and Newark. On-site and mobile food pantries are essential nutrition sources for many families. Bayhealth, which has identified this as a major concern for their patients, has teamed up with the American Heart Association to create 302 Food Rescue, the first program in the nation of its kind.
Volunteers, or the “Food Rescue Crew” as they are called donate their time and transportation to get excess food from grocery stores and restaurants into the hands of the Food Bank of Delaware.
“It’s a win-win for our patients and our community,” says Amanda Bowie, vice president of Marketing Communications for Bayhealth. Their mission of healthcare includes addressing poverty and food insecurity. They even have an acronym for it: SDOH (social determinants of health).
The American Heart Association of Delaware explains that heart disease is the number one cause of death globally, and in Delaware, stroke is the number three cause of death. Both can largely be attributed to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Food Rescue Hero is an app that notifies volunteers of available food in need of a ride to a community organization. It is a national organization, but 302 Food Rescue Hero is the first in the country to launch the program statewide.
A whopping 87 per cent of food 302 Food Rescue recovers is fresh produce and other foods that would otherwise be wasted. More than 15 million pounds of food was delivered by the food bank in 2022.
Working with an organization called Unite Delaware, a social services network, Bayhealth patients are confidentially screened and connected with resources to assist.
As Bayhealth’s Volunteer Services Manager Carrie Hart puts it, “We’re in this community together. We want to help each other lead better lives – not just medically but in all aspects of life.”
By Mary Jo Tarallo, Guest Journalist
Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry as a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland.