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Am J Prev Med. 2018 May;54(5 Suppl 2):S130-S132. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.12.006.

Boulder Food Rescue: An Innovative Approach to Reducing Food Waste and Increasing Food Security.

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Center for Community Health and Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle, Washington. Electronic address:
Center for Community Health and Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, Seattle, Washington.
Boulder Food Rescue, Boulder, Colorado; University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado.


Food waste and food insecurity are both significant issues in communities throughout the U.S., including Boulder, Colorado. As much as 40% of the food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten and ends up in landfills. Nearly 13% of people in the Boulder region experience some level of food insecurity. Founded in 2011, Boulder Food Rescue supports community members to create their own food security through a participatory approach to an emergency food system. The organization uses a web-application "robot" to manage a schedule of volunteers. They coordinate with individuals at low-income senior housing sites, individual housing sites, family housing sites, after-school programs, and pre-schools to set up no-cost grocery programs stocked with food from local markets and grocers that would otherwise go to waste. Each site coordinator makes decisions about how, when, and where food delivery and distribution will occur. The program also conducts robust, real-time data collection and analysis. Boulder Food Rescue is a member and manager of the Food Rescue Alliance, and its model has been replicated and adapted by other cities, including Denver, Colorado Springs, Seattle, Jackson Hole, Minneapolis, Binghamton, and in the Philippines. Information for this special article was collected through key informant interviews with current and former Boulder Food Rescue staff and document review of Boulder Food Rescue materials. Boulder Food Rescue's open source software is available to other communities; to date, 40 cities have used the tool to start their own food rescue organizations. Boulder Food Rescue hopes to continue spreading this model to other cities that are considering ways to reduce food waste and increase food security.


This article is part of a supplement entitled Building Thriving Communities Through Comprehensive Community Health Initiatives, which is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, Community Health.

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