In 2019 with the support of World Central Kitchen and Marriott, Nilus commits to expand their successful “uberized” food rescue program to the Caribbean, beginning with a one-year pilot in Puerto Rico, to minimize food waste and create affordable and healthy food markets for low-income people. Nilus is seeking to empower the food community in Puerto Rico to rescue food in edible condition and redistribute it among low-income populations affected by food insecurity. This model saves disposal costs for food producers and retailers, and contributes to the well-being of the broader community and planet.
Nilus will work with hospitality companies, food retailers, industrial food producers and their suppliers that have non-expired food available for donation. Nilus will upload this inventory to a digital marketplace where soup kitchens and other social institutions like schools, hospitals and prisons that work with vulnerable populations can choose what they need. Once the matching is made, their community of licensed drivers is notified of the trip, and the first one who accepts gets to transport the food from the donor to the beneficiary. The model is sustainable because beneficiaries pay a heavily discounted price for the food, around 10% of market price, which is sufficient to pay the drivers and sustain the social organization.
The project is expected to begin in September 2019 and is estimated to last one year. Nilus will begin in San Juan and identify one additional rural area over the course of the project. Throughout the year, Nilus will continue to fundraise and build a network of 15 food donors, 50 recipient organizations and 15 drivers. To support the management of the program, Nilus will hire a local dispatcher and train the food donors, recipients and drivers on utilizing the digital platform, food safety and storage.
Though this pilot Nilus will rescue 25 tons of food per month and support 500 people at 50 recipient organizations. After 12 months of execution, Nilus expects to have a self-sustaining operation that can increase the volume of rescued food by at least 25% per year.
The pilot project is expected to kick-off on September 1, 2019. It is estimated to last one year, with the following calendar of quarterly deliverables:
Quarter 1 (Sep-Dec 2019): (1) Network setup: find at least three food donors and 10 soup kitchens to deliver; build the driver fleet; set up collaboration relationships with public and private local stakeholders; (2) Preparation of logistics protocol; (3) Technology adaptation.
Quarter 2 (Jan-Mar 2020): (1) Pilot kick-off: Begin rescue operation pilot network in the city of San Juan; (2) First Expansion: Increase the donors and beneficiaries network to at least 10 and 25 respectively.
Quarters 3 (Apr-Jun 2020): (1) Network growth: Increase the donors and beneficiaries network to at least 15 and 50 respectively; (2) Second Expansion: test the expansion of the rescue model from an urban to a rural area in Puerto Rico.
Quarter 4: (Jun-Sep 2020): (1) Evaluation: Analysis of results, impact and lessons learned; (2) International Expansion: Analysis and selection of a second destination in the Caribbean.
The world throws away over a third of the food it produces while over 820 million people are undernourished. In the Caribbean, it is estimated that between 20% and 30% of fruits and vegetables produced in the region are lost in post-harvest activities while there are over 7.5 million people suffering from undernourishment (UN Food and Agriculture Organization & World Health Organization).
In Puerto Rico, approximately 25% of the food produced on island is wasted, due to expiration or misusage. At the same time, malnutrition – which is predominately due to economic access to nutritious food – is associated with three of the four most prominent causes of death amongst Puerto Ricans. Finally, Puerto Rico ranks 50 among US States in terms of access to public nutritional programs for children and young adults (Sociology Department, Universidad de Puerto Rico).
Food waste is also responsible for over 3.3 gigatons of greenhouse gasses emissions – if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses. Food waste also consumes a significant amount of surface and groundwater resources. It accounts for 250 km3 of water, which is equivalent to the annual water discharge of the Volga river. Last but not least, food production that eventually goes to waste takes almost 1.4 billion hectares of land, 30% of the world’s agricultural land area, and utilizes19% of all pesticides in production. (UN Food and Agriculture Organization).
Nilus is digital platform that connects donors of non-expired food to organizations in need, preventing food waste and increasing the access of low-income populations to nutritious food. To date, Nilus has operated in Rosario and Mar del Plata, Argentina. Their model uses crowdsourcing technology to help hotels, supermarkets, industrial food producers and farmers that have non-expired food available for donation upload their inventory in a digital marketplace where soup kitchens and other social institutions can choose what they need. From 2017 to 2018, they rescued 250 tons of food, equivalent to over 750,000 meals