Carnegie Mellon University
Leah Lizarondo

Food security, less waste

CMU alumna Leah Lizarondo has created a tool to fight food waste  building a movement that impacts hunger and environmental sustainability.

Leah Lizarondo is about the rescue. Since 2015, the non-profit she co-founded, 412 Food Rescue, has saved almost 2 million pounds of food and put it into the hands of people who desperately need it.

“Forty percent of our food supply goes to waste,” she explains. “Why are we throwing away all of this food when, on the other side, there are so many people who are hungry?”

Recognizing that 1 in 7 Americans are plagued with food insecurity, Lizarondo (HNZ 2003) co-founded 412 Food Rescue to fight hunger by redirecting surplus food from delivery to landfills — saving the environment at the same time.

Almost half of food waste comes from retailers, restaurants and food service companies — a highly distributed network that presents a difficult logistics problem. “I saw the big opportunity,” she says. “I was interested in the challenge. 412 Food Rescue is a technology solution to the moral problems of waste, hunger and environmental sustainability.”

412 Food Rescue redirects perfectly good food from entering the waste stream by collecting unsellable yet fresh, healthy and safe edibles from retailers and moving them directly to nonprofit partners who distribute the food. A network of over 2,000 drivers, all mobilized through 412 Food Rescue’s mobile app, transports the food from the retailers.

A graduate of the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, Lizarondo credits her time at Carnegie Mellon for arming her with the skills to balance technology with social good.  

She says, “412 Food Rescue provides a solution to the food waste problem through technology that mobilizes civic participation. It’s tech for good. It’s creating and scaling an entirely new food distribution network.”