Columbus Food Rescue merges with Local Matters to expand reach

Columbus, OH – Local Matters has merged with Columbus Food Rescue in 2024 to deepen its partnership and expand reach. 

“We’re thrilled to welcome Columbus Food Rescue to the Local Matters family,” said Kerry Shaw, Local Matters’ Interim Executive Director. “The joining of our organizations will expand food diversion and access efforts across Central Ohio.” 

Columbus Food Rescue fights food waste and contributes to food equity by rescuing excess food from grocery stores, caterers, restaurants, and more. 

The food is then directly distributed to agencies serving the food insecure, including food pantries, shelters, supportive housing sites, and drop-in centers. In 2023, Columbus Food Rescue completed 10,000+ rescues from 100+ donors and redistributed 1,131,000 pounds of food to 77 receiving agencies

These efforts align directly with Local Matters’ mission to create healthier communities through its comprehensive food access, education, and advocacy work, which includes food waste education and reduction efforts. 

“Joining with Local Matters has already created really exciting opportunities to expand our efforts not just in food recovery but in further collaboration with and amplification of the efforts of our community partners,” said Emily Rials, co-director of Columbus Food Rescue.    

Through funding by The Columbus Foundation, Local Matters invested time and resources into its capacity building efforts in 2023, aiming to elevate the work of local partners in emerging food projects. The unification between Local Matters and Columbus Food Rescue is a direct result of the capacity building momentum. 

How does the partnership between Local Matters and Columbus Food Rescue impact our local landscape? According to SWACO’s Save More Than Food initiative, 185 million meals are landfilled every single year: that’s 145 potential meals per Franklin County resident. 

“It’s impossible to address our insufficient food system without acknowledging the issue of food waste and its implications for food equity,” said Susan Swinford, co-director of Columbus Food Rescue. “With a million pounds of food waste entering the Franklin County landfill every day, the potential for greater impact is immense, and food waste and equity issues intersect with many — maybe all — pressing community issues. We’re very excited that this partnership increases both organizations’ access to shared resources and opportunities and creates the sort of synergy that further fuels our efforts.”

The organization is preparing for the launch of Ro’s Kitchen, a pilot program supported by La Soupe that will give new life to surplus food through the curation of meals to be locally distributed. Ro’s Kitchen’s name celebrates the legacy, spirit, and vision of Roshelle Pate. Known as The Food Soldier, Pate worked tirelessly to safeguard dignity and provide access for those in need of food in Central Ohio until her untimely death in 2023. 

You can learn more about Local Matters here, visit the Columbus Food Rescue Instagram page here, and view upcoming volunteer opportunities for both Local Matters and Columbus Food Rescue here

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About Local Matters

Local Matters’ mission is to create healthier communities through food education, access, and advocacy, reaching 15,000 people annually. Founded in 2008 by Noreen Warnock and Michael Jones, the organization works toward equitable access to a sustainable food system and a world free of food-related chronic disease. Learn more by visiting https://www.local-matters.org

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