Every Thursday morning, a truck from the Freestore Foodbank pulls up to the loading dock at American Modern Insurance in Amelia, Ohio, just east of Cincinnati. Matthew Dooley is there to greet the driver. Together, they go into the company’s first floor storage area to collect the food and drinks that are stacked around the room and chilling in the fridge.
Chips, sodas, sandwiches, salads, fruit, cookies, wraps—whatever was served in the company’s conference rooms that week and not eaten is collected and saved for the Freestore truck. The downtown Cincinnati food bank then distributes the food to the growing number of people who need help providing for themselves and their families.
It’s Dooley’s favorite day of the week. “The reward is just knowing that people are being fed,” he says.
Dooley, a 2006 business graduate who also earned an MBA in 2008, came up with the idea last winter after noticing a lot of food and products lying around at the end of a catered team meeting. After asking a few questions, he realized the food did not have to go to waste and put together Food Rescue, a program where he and a team of colleagues gather the leftovers, take them to the first floor storage room and send them to the Freestore for d istribution.
The success of the program lies in Dooley’s attention to details. He made sure the online catering order form allows people to choose if they want the leftovers to go to the Food Rescue program. When he noticed that some people didn’t use the online form, preferring to call in their requests, he asked the caterer to require all orders be made online. The caterer agreed and found it also improved business flow.
And Dooley created a separate email account that notifies him every time someone requests the Food Rescue service. He sends thank-you emails and reports the amount of food donated. Between June and December 2009, the program donated 2,500 pounds of food. Through the first nine months of 2010, more than 4,000 pounds have been delivered.
Dooley, who works in social media advertising, and his team created a motto—“Yours To Spare, Ours To Share”—for Food Rescue, as well as a smiling banana logo. The person or group in the company donating the most food each month gets the Top Banana trophy. Now he’s working on expanding the program to include organizations all over the region. He says it’s rewarding to know the food will not be wasted.