Linda Hess has the solution for hunger – reach out and help someone.
Through Urban Harvester, a non-profit foundation she founded in 2012, that’s exactly what she’s doing.
Hess, in her own words, likes to talk about the food recovery program designed to “connect the dots between surplus food and hunger uniting communities,” which accounts for more than 20 tons of food per year that winds up in the hands of pantries and soup kitchens.
She told her moving story about launching Urban Harvester on Tuesday as part of a ShopTalk Breakfast at Mike and Anne’s restaurant hosted by the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.
As an advocate of waste prevention, the foundation focuses on designing food recovery systems to support communities benefitting from receiving food.
“We don’t have a fleet of trucks or a facility,” explained Hess to Zocalo Public Square, a digital forum. “We are like a dating service bringing together the food and the agencies who need it.”
It was moments like the day she noticed a retired priest wrapping up leftover food following a memorial service that he explained would be given to seniors at an apartment complex in Pasadena or the time she witnessed a woman’s kitchen cabinet filled with pet food that wasn’t intended for the family cat that Hess said something needed to come to the rescue of others.
In less than 48 hours, Hess returned to the woman’s residence with donated food, a helping hand and a desire to make life better for others.
She claims that 40 percent of all food produced in the country is wasted and wants it to go to the poor and needy. Urban Harvester’s Food Recovery Program connects more than 25,000 meals from participating food donors each year to a growing network of non-profit community agencies throughout Los Angeles County.
Hess is quick to point out that one out of every six people in the United States is food insecure.
“As the food matchmaker, Urban Harvester will continue to be the boots on the ground that trains, vets and matches the right donor to the appropriate agencies to connect the dots to end hunger,” writes Hess.
Her mission today is to simply suggest to food suppliers an alternative solution to dispose of fresh food that currently is going to waste.
“Our goal is to keep taking big steps, albeit one at time, to help people with their basic needs,” she told Zocalo Public Square, which connects people to ideas and each other” Hess says.
And she’s doing it with plenty of gusto, a no-quit determined attitude and a friendly smile.