Leah Lizarondo is an inventive social entrepreneur who’s engaging everyday citizens in the fight to end hunger and reduce the environmental damage caused by food waste. She’s the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, a food recovery organization that uses technology to link retailers with excess food to distribution volunteers, preventing un-sellable but perfectly good food from going to waste.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Leah lives in Pittsburgh, where her social enterprise got started 5 years ago. She turned a lifelong passion for food into a pioneering model for sustainability after learning about the magnitude of global food waste, which has devastating implications for both people and planet.
“We started in direct response to the disconnect that we as a society waste 40% of the food supply while 1 in 6 people go hungry,” explains Leah. “Food waste is also the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, affecting us all.”
As CEO of 412 Food Rescue, which has been called ‘Uber for food recovery’, Leah has helped redirect over 9 million meals from over 2300 food retailers to over 900 NGOs, getting food to those who need it and preventing 9 million pounds of carbon emissions in the process. Currently operating in 6 North American cities, with over 10,000 volunteer drivers in its network, Leah’s plan is to create a global movement of that reaches 100 cities by 2030.
Set to expand globally, Leah’s work at 412 Food Rescue has been featured in national media including NPR, Fast Company, FoodTank, Martha Stewart Living, Food & Wine, Saveur, Organic Life, Bust Magazine, Redbook, Success Magazine and Civil Eats. In April 2014, she gave the TEDx Talk “Why the Farm Is Not Getting to the Table.” Leah was named in FoodTank‘s “17 Food Heroes to Inspire Us in 2017″ and in 2018 she was named “Pittsburgher of the Year” by Pittsburgh City Paper. Additionally, 412 Food Rescue was recognized as Pittsburgh Tech 50’s “StartUp of the Year” in 2018 and received the Carnegie Science Award for Information Technology in 2019 – making it the first social enterprise to receive both awards.
Leah received her graduate degree in Public Policy & Technology from Carnegie Mellon University. She serves as Entrepreneur in Residence at the Block Center for Technology & Society at Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. She was born and raised in the Philippines and currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Lizarondo’s organization supports the following SDGs:
Goal 2: Zero Hunger
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Goal 13: Climate Action
“Food Rescue Hero facilitates a point-to-point distribution model that completely changes the way we enable food access. Not only are we able to recover healthy, perishable food, we are able to distribute food more widely — mitigating barriers such as transit access, mobility, disability and time. We have prevented over 6 million pounds of food from going to landfills to feeding those who are in need. This is the largest volunteer transport network and the most food recovered by a grassroots network globally.”
Leah was selected as a 2019 WE Empower Awardee and a 2020 Global Leadership Awards Honoree.