Urban Institute’s findings confirm the widespread incidence of food insecurity.
“Adults whose grocery costs increased a lot in 2022 relied on charitable food and other coping strategies but still faced high rates of food insecurity,” according to information that was extracted from the recent Well-Being and Basic Needs Survey.
With an uptick of food insecure individuals, rescuing surplus food is timely. A free, mobile app called Careit helps to combat hunger through a collaborative marketplace.
A business that possesses an EIN number (Employer Identification Number), a nonprofit with an EIN number and food retailers such as supermarket chains, restaurants, commercial kitchens, caterers and event producers that have used food from events are examples of Careit’s virtual community members.
Food donation and rescue software make it simple for donors to post surplus, edible food that can be used by local nonprofits to feed local community members. Alyson Schill, co-founder and CEO at Careit, added that available items may extend beyond food.
“A business can make a post of their available donations. It doesn’t have to be food. We have categories for non-food items because a lot of times people will need non-food items,”Schill said. “A lot of times people will need diapers or feminine hygiene products. Sometimes clothing is on the app, or after an event, sometimes there’s furniture items and appliances. We send out a notification to all of the local nonprofits through the app that a donation is available.”
A nonprofit may reserve the donation and arrange logistics with the donor. The weight of the donation is measured. Donors can use the information for recording metrics of social impact. Accountants can also be given the information for tax donations.
The app launched in July of 2021.
“Early [in] 2022, we started seeing people from across the country use it, and in summer of 2022, we onboarded our first major corporate user which was Sprouts Farmers Market. That’s who introduced us to some of the users in the Baltimore area and that has been our first kind of entry point for Baltimore,” Schill said. “Right now, we have users that are actively using the app in over 30 states.”
Schill stated that the number of users is increasing daily. Over eight million pounds of food have been rescued to date through the app.
Schill is a former events coordinator who also worked in the event sustainability field. She later became involved in rescuing agricultural food and produce that would otherwise be unharvested or unsold. While working as an events coordinator, she had a difficult time finding places to donate perfectly edible food that was left over.
“I said ‘There needs to be an app for this,’” Schill recalled.
Ben Arledge is Careit’s co-founder and chief tech officer (CTO) who is based in Canada. Schill moves around frequently but she is California-based. In early 2021, Schill posted an inquiry in a Facebook group, asking for some advice on finding a CTO. Arledge sent a note to Schill. The pair was able to quickly finish the Careit build and launch it within six months. Advanced features are offered through Careit’s pay model.
Legal parameters of food donation and food safety have not been overlooked. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996 encouraged food donations to needy people through nonprofit distribution by minimizing liability. Schill noted that earlier this year, the Food Donation Improvement Act expanded protection of businesses that want to donate food to registered 501(C)3 nonprofits. Schill explained that nonprofit organizations work with health departments to learn how to inspect donated food for food safety purposes.
Careit’s expansion in more locations is underway. Schill informed that new Careit users, including donors, are actively encouraged to sign up. The app can be downloaded on a mobile device for use across the United States and Canada.
“As soon as we see a donation come through in an area where we don’t have nonprofit organizations, we immediately get on the phone and start looking for nonprofits in that area to sign up and rescue the food,” Schill said.
Catherine Morneault, president and founder of the nonprofit, Let’s Eat Inc., located in Baltimore, Maryland feeds 3,000 to 5,000 people a week through partners. She stated that she looks forward to Careit being a weekly contact to find more food.
“I have been using Careit for about six months,” she said. “The first thing that struck me was, it was obvious that a person that was familiar with food rescue designed it. It makes reporting so much quicker and I know all the information is safe!”
Visit https://careit.com/about/ to learn more about Careit. See https://my.careitapp.com/auth/register to register.