Seattle Food Rescue: Pedaling for the hungry

Business: Seattle Food Rescue
Laura Biren, Tim Jenkins and Helen Katich
Industry: Nonprofit

The city of Seattle reports that in 2013, Public Utilities collected 46,892 tons of food and compostable waste from the commercial sector alone. Restaurants, supermarkets and grocery stores dump tons of perishable food every day.

A new Seattle nonprofit has set out to ‘rescue’ fresh food before it hits the dumpster, and redistribute it to those in need.

“The concept is simple: we collect perishable food waste from businesses and restaurants to feed the hungry and needy,” said co-founder Laura Biren. “But unlike other food banks and services, we are focused on direct rescue and redistribution of fresh and healthier food that would be discarded otherwise.”

Seattle Food Rescue takes its mission and business model from the successful Boulder Food Rescue, a Colorado-based nonprofit that saves and redistributes thousands of pounds of food per week.

With a goal to create a more just and less wasteful food system, the Boulder and Seattle Food Rescue organizations are, in many ways, more of a transport service than they are a food bank in that they focus on direct distribution.

Larger food banks use warehouses to store their food, which means many lack fruit, vegetables and other soon-to-expire foods. Seattle Food Rescue volunteers however, pick up the soon-to-perish foods from restaurants or grocers on a daily basis and directly distribute it to those in need an hour or two later. No storage required.

And while they are reducing hunger, they’re also reducing their carbon footprint, transporting all food by bicycle.

“We’re self-supported and totally human-powered,” Biren stated. Just two months into their operation, Biren said the nonprofit is still small but expanding quickly.

“We’re already in need of more trailers, and we’ve been spreading the word among university students to get more volunteers,” she said.

Got some free time to bike around food or a bike trailer to spare? Contact to [email protected] to volunteer and learn more. Also find them online at

Bikenomics is a feature series to spotlight the greater Seattle area’s growing bike-friendly businesses. Know a business that should be featured? Send me an email at [email protected]

Anne-Marije Rook's picture
Anne-Marije Rook