Growing up, Maria Rose Belding volunteered at a food pantry and saw how food sometimes expired and was thrown away because it was difficult to reach people who needed it. At 14, she thought of a way to solve the problem and as a college freshman, she helped launch MEANS -- a nonprofit online platform that connects businesses with extra food to organizations that feed the hungry. Since 2015, MEANS has helped rescue and redistribute more than 1.8 million pounds of food.
Video: CNN Hero Maria Rose Belding
A Word (or a Hundred) From the MEANS Team:
Thanks so much for finding our page! We're so honored to be a part of this program. Below are the answers to some common questions about us and what we do.
What Does MEANS Cost to Use?
Nothing. Whether you're an anti-hunger charity or a food donor, MEANS is free to use. We believe that it should be easier and more accessible to give your food to a person in need than a dumpster, and keeping our tech free means reaching as many people as possible.
What Does Donating Help MEANS Do?
Our team is firmly committed to building a nonprofit run like a business. We believe that it is possible to be efficient, effective and just, without building a revenue stream on the backs of the most vulnerable. Your donations help us do everything from pay outreach interns to purchase computer equipment, and all of that helps us move more food. With roots in an Iowa farming community and various DC dorm rooms, we know efficiency is the name of the game, and this approach has helped us totally defy all expectations. We move food for between $0.04 and $0.08 per pound. That's the same or less than the largest anti-hunger charities in the United States, accomplished with 0.000068% of the financial resources. Your funds help us keep growing, keep expanding, keep recuriting new food donors and reciepient agencies, and keep defying the expectations for what charity should be in the 21st-century. To speak to a representative at MEANS about this in more detail, if you're interested, please shoot us an email at email@example.com.
Where Do You Work Now?
MEANS is now partnered with more than 3,000 soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and other emergency food providers in 48 U.S. states and DC. (This makes MEANS, by geography, the largest free food recovery technology in the United States!) If you aren't sure if we work where you are, but want us to, feel free to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How Often Does MEANS Work, and How Long Does It Take?
Our site finds homes for 90%+ of the pounds of food donated via our website, in an average of half an hour across the US. By leaving local organizations in charge of what they get from our system, MEANS ensures that donations don't just get dumped at the nearest soup kitchen. Leaving charities in the driver's seat as to what items they recieve when gives them the kind of inventory control they deserve, and reduces food waste. It's a win-win!
What Kind of Food Do You Move?
You'd be surprised. We focus on the kind of healthy foods that everyone deserves to eat, and that real-time technology enables us to rescue. We rescue safe, properly handled product from restaurants, caterers, manufacterers, farmers and more, and we are always excited to help move fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and milk products. We've helped find homes for, among many others, squab from a five-star restaurant in Seattle, 250 rutabags in Virginia, and 79,000 one-ounce pizza sauce packets in rural New Hampshire. If you think nobody wants what you have to donate, think again!
Is There Any Food You Don't Move?
We will not accept soda products or alcohol, and try to limit our acceptance of candy, cookies and other product with highly limited nutritional value. We also can not, at this time, accept food donations from private homes or individuals. (We'd also love it if we never had the pizza sauce situation again. That was a rough day in the office.)
Can I Volunteer To Help?
YES. We are always in need of volunteers, especially ones with web development experience. To learn more about volunteering or interning with us, and apply, go to https://meansdatabase.org/contact-us/ and click on the button that says "Volunteer or Intern With Us."
Where Can I Learn More?
Head to www.meansdatabase.org, or our Facebook page. If you've got a question, hit us up on Twitter at @MEANSDatabase, or email us at email@example.com.