For the most part, Miami is a wasteful place. What goes into the garbage bins of South Beach restaurants in one night could probably feed the city's entire homeless population for a week. This problem hasn't gone unnoticed, however, and Rescuing Leftover Cuisine is setting up shop in the Magic City to help reduce, reuse and recycle.
The New York-based organization is launching its Miami arm with volunteer Matilde Suescun at the helm. With the direction of the company's CEO, Robert Lee, Suescun and other volunteers will help coordinate the donation of food from restaurants and stores with dropoffs at local homeless shelters.
"The concept is really beautiful. It helps everyone," says Suescun. "On one hand we have all this wasted food that's a problem—you need to transport it, it occupies a lot of space and it doesn't serve anyone, it's bad for the environment. And on other hand you have a lot of people that are hungry. It's a very basic concept — it’s just uniting those two ends."
"It's a major step for us, and it does make us nervous because the consistency of our name and brand is now even more spread out across different geographical locations that we cannot control as much as in NYC," says Lee of the organization's launch in Miami.
"However, we are so glad to have community leaders such as Matilde to really get things off the ground in Miami. We are confident that our brand and mission will only get stronger because of the work led by Matilde."
"These programs affect the communities in so many different ways. In terms of engaging the public as volunteers and food providers such as restaurants in the program, we make people become more engaged in the community and they begin to care more. The food that would have been wasted does not go to landfills, and instead feeds people. This reduces landfill pile up, which in turn reduces methane gas emission, and helps to provide supplementary food for people who need it. These people are then able to focus more on getting themselves out of the situation that they are in. The homeless shelters that we drop off the food also are able to use less of their limited budget on purchasing food, and more on providing other homeless services such as jobs skills."
So how can restaurants help?
"The best thing is to email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org and say they want to participate and how to reach them," says Suescun. "There are so many restaurants, if we can get at least a few to get started there are so many people in need."
Follow Hannah on Twitter.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.