Air Force veteran’s nonprofit ‘rescues’ uneaten food and delivers it to local charities | New

Air Force veteran Chuck Smiley has a mentor who helps guide him on his next adventure.

His daughter Katherine.

Catherine Smiley is the Chief Operating Officer of Save kitchen scrapsa New York-based nonprofit that redistributes leftover food to feed those struggling with food insecurity.

After completing an eight-year career at Boeing, preceded by 32 years of service, Smiley decided to bring the vision of Rescuing Leftover Kitchen to Charleston, where approximately 600,000 tonnes of food waste are produced every year.

Cuisine Rescue was established as a nonprofit in March. Her first culinary rescue was on April 9.

“He’s my business mentor. That’s where we kind of got the idea from,” Smiley said. “We thought we’d give it a try here in Charleston.”

Culinary rescue

Chuck Smiley, founder of Cuisine Rescue. Chuck Smiley/Supplied

New York City is one of many metropolises working to reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfills.

California and New Jersey have laws that aim to limit food waste, and Vermont in 2020 banned the disposal of food waste in trash cans or landfills.

Overseas, France in 2016 banned grocery stores from throw away unsold food that could be donated, while Spain has made the fight against food waste is a priority with new legislation.

Elsewhere in the for-profit space, Bloomberg reports that tech startups across Asia are turning food destined for landfill into cut-price meals that can be purchased through mobile phone applications.

Cuisine Rescue could provide Charleston with an example of how to use leftovers effectively.

With each rescue, Smiley and a network of volunteers collect leftover prepared food from restaurants and caterers and deliver it to local nonprofit kitchens and shelters.

The nonprofit’s 22nd “rescue” took place Aug. 9 when volunteers brought leftover food from the Segra Club of Charleston RiverDogs to Star Gospel Mission in just 12 minutes, well under the guarantee of the non-profit organization to get food door to door in an hour or less. .

Food safety is the reason for fast deliveries. From pickup to drop off, food must stay below the “danger zone” temperature of 41 degrees.

Josh and Al at Joe, 6-25-22.jpg

Charleston RiverDogs Vice President of Food and Beverage Josh Shea (right) with Cuisine Rescue volunteer Al Vitalo. Rescue/Provided Kitchen

Ready-to-eat foods prepared in a kitchen can be kept for seven days if kept below this temperature and should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than an hour.

To make this possible, RiverDogs Vice President of Food and Beverage Josh Shea simply stored the food in an on-site cooler overnight. Smiley and his team then choreographed the pickup ahead of time so there was no delay.

“They’ve been very flexible and great to partner with,” Shea said. “I would recommend (for) anyone looking to make a difference with extra nourishment.”

While it looks like there are a lot of moving parts, it’s actually quite simple, Smiley said. And Rescuing Leftover Cuisine provided proof of concept – the non-profit organization saved over 8 million pounds of food and provided nearly 7 million meals to those in need.

“The logistics are simple,” Smiley said. “We pick it up and deliver it within the hour. It’s our promise.

While the deliveries themselves went smoothly, the search for food donors was not. Some restaurants and caterers have said they don’t have enough leftover food to warrant pickup (Rescue Kitchen has no minimum requirement.), while others are concerned about the lack of control they have on their food once it leaves the event or building.

For those worried about liability, Smiley points to federal and state”Good Samaritan“Laws that offer legal protections to food donors.

“They feel a lot more comfortable that they’re doing the right thing and that they’re protected to do the right thing,” Smiley said.

North Charleston is hiring a homelessness coordinator.  Proponents say more resources are needed.

The RiverDogs were Cuisine Rescue’s first donor and have been a big supporter ever since, contributing 91 pounds of food scraps over 11 rescues. Every RiverDogs donation went to star gospel Mission, where a resident chef uses the food to feed men facing homelessness.

Cuisine Rescue receives regular donations from Blondies Bagels & Cafe on Daniel Island, and the nonprofit has also rescued two catered events. The PINK House Neighborhood Resource Center and neighbors together are among the beneficiaries of these bailouts.

The movement to limit food waste and use leftovers is upon us, and Culinary rescue wants to help Charleston restaurants and caterers get started. Although the nonprofit’s footprint is still quite small, Smiley thinks it could have a big impact.

“I think what will give us success is just momentum,” he said. “Once it starts, I think it’s going to have a big effect.”

For this to happen, Cuisine Rescue needs more donors.

Those interested in becoming Cuisine Rescue donors or volunteering for the organization can visit

Launched during pandemic, nonprofit Charleston Food and Drink is 'here to stay'

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