How leftovers are helping to feed the homeless

Published: Aug. 5, 2019 at 3:08 PM EDT
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A growing number of cities are feeding the homeless in a new way. A man from New York City is leading the charge and he wants your local restaurant to get involved.

Growing up in Queens, New York, Robert Lee didn't always have enough to eat.

"There were times when we would just have one bowl of ramen and that would be it for the entire day," he said.

After studying business and landing a job as a banker, he quit to start the nonprofit Rescuing Leftover Cuisine or RLC.

"Thinking about people who are not having enough to eat when there is so much food around us that is going to waste really disturbed me," Lee said.

RLC partners with about 300 catering operations, office cafeterias and restaurants in 16 cities. Those companies donate food leftover at the end of the day and volunteers deliver it to local shelters.

The restaurant Proper Food handcrafts meals each day and gives away what isn't sold.

"I'm really grateful that we have such an easy way to be able to give back to our local communities," co-owner Dana Bloom said.

U.S. restaurants generate an estimated 22 billion pounds of food waste each year. Many major chains are trying to change that by donating through charities similar to RLC.

Lee says he distributes more than 1 million pounds of food a year. That food helps people like Munoz Price who found himself homeless after his landlord sold the building he was living in.

"Once you fill someone's stomach and they've satisfied that area, they're able to think a whole lot more clearly about the next path or the next transition, the next move that they have to make," Price said.

Price is back on his feet and he's joined Lee volunteering his time to get meals to those who need them most.