This article first appeared in Texas Lifestyle Magazine on November 18, 2019.
Barbara Bronstein is rescuing food one meal at a time and on a mission to fill stomachs, not landfills.
For more than 30 years, Bronstein has resided in Houston where she had attended her fair share of banquets over the years. A common thread she began piecing together was the amount of prepared food being thrown away when people didn’t show up or too much food was ordered. Either way, perfectly good food was wasted by putting it into the garbage.
In Houston, 1 in 5 people face food insecurity and an estimated 31% of available food goes to waste. Learning those disturbing statistics, Bronstein was surprised Houston didn’t have an organization where unused food portions could be donated. The retired marketing executive quickly uncovered a new purpose which changed her life and is now changing the lives of more than 200,000 Houstonians every year.
After extensive research, Bronstein spearheaded Houston’s first and only prepared and perishable food rescue organization known as Second Servings of Houston (SSH). Since 2014, SSH has taken over-stocked food as well as edible, unused or unserved food that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill delivering it the same day to its charity recipients.
The philanthropist tapped back in to her marketing background with the way she approached the business side of SSH.“I look at food rescue through the eyes of both the food donors and charity recipients, trying to understand their needs and how Second Servings can best satisfy those needs better than any alternatives,” says Bronstein.
Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, low-income families, veterans, and countless others save money and meal preparation time, while receiving a wide variety of chef-prepared quality meals.
In less than five years, SSH has successfully rescued three million pounds of food, valued at $20 million. “Nearly 40% of the available food supply goes to waste, which has major social, economic, and environmental consequences. Food rescue is a practical, efficient approach to tackle both pressing issues,” says Bronstein.
SSH partners with over 250 businesses like Trader Joe’s, Frito-Lay, Compass Group, Target, Aramark, Hilton and Hess Corp who donate their unused food that would otherwise end up in landfills. In fact, SSH has rescued as much as 40,000 pounds of food at one time.
The nonprofit’s goal is to become a significant community resource in the fight against hunger and waste in Houston and other major cities throughout the United States.
When Bronstein isn’t making a huge dent into food insecurity, she enjoys the arts, dining at new restaurants, playing mahjong, taking Pilates classes and finding time to relax.