Bronstein ‘Rescues’ Food to Fill Hungry Bellies, Not Landfills
UNDER HER LEADERSHIP, $60 million worth of perfectly edible food has been rescued, and nine million pounds of food have been diverted from landfills in Houston. Founder of nonprofit Second Servings Barbara Bronstein — set to be honored at a luncheon this month, with food prepared in a unique way that speaks to her mission — first had her aha! moment when attending one of many banquets where guests either don’t show, or too much food was ordered and it was being thrown away.
“Food rescue was working all over the country, but not in Houston,” says Bronstein. She put on her marketing hat — one she had worn formerly as a marketing exec — and got to work. “After tons of research and connecting the dots, we figured out a way to rescue perfectly good, fresh food by picking it up from donors in refrigerated trucks and delivering it to the food insecure,” says Bronstein, who founded Second Servings in 2015.
To date, thanks to grocery and retail stores like Whole foods, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Aldi and Spec’s, major sports arenas, hotels, banquet halls and caterers, along with 400 other food donors, perfectly fresh food is being delivered to Houston’s hungry. Second Servings works with about 100 Houston area nonprofits. Bronstein says that we throw away 40 percent of the food we produce, even as 20 percent of Houstonians have food insecurity.
Second Servings’ latest project is pop-up mini “grocery stores” around Houston in low-income sites and community centers using fresh food donated from grocery donors, which Bronstein started to help fight inflation at the supermarket. “This gives shoppers a dignified shopping experience, one where they can choose what they want,” says Bronstein. “People are getting to try new foods risk-free, and it could lead to better food choices.” So far, the grocery donations have reached about $10,000. “Trader Joe’s has been an amazing donor,” adds Bronstein.
Bronstein’s first rescue mission in 2013 was at the Hadassah Women of Courage luncheon. Ten years later, she will be honored by the 2023 Houston Chapter of Hadassah as the first “Women Who Do” award recipient at a luncheon this January 17, 2023, at Congregation Beth Israel. Three Houston chefs will pick out the food at a rescue at Trader Joe’s and prepare the lunch.
“This is very meaningful to me because my first rescue was for Hadassah in 2013, and when I told the guests that all the unused and uncooked food would be donated, the crowd broke into applause,” says Bronstein. The award gives us opportunity to educate others on what we do for the community.