Moving is a perfect time to purge. It's tempting to throw everything to the curb, but it's more responsible to make sure that perfectly good items get into the hands of those who need them — including that food in the pantry you really don't have time to pack.
Finding the time to get your good but unwanted food to a donation site may be difficult when there are a hundred other moving details to worry about. But if you hire a moving company that partners with Move for Hunger, you won't have to find the time. Your mover will take care of it for you.
A genius idea
Adam Lowy saw the potential to make an impact on hunger and food waste when his family's moving company offered to donate food for customers. In the first month that Lowy's Moving Service collected non-perishables from its customers, they donated 300 pounds of food to the local food bank in Neptune, New Jersey.
"I took a tour of the food bank and they told me that 100,000 people in Monmouth and Ocean counties didn't have enough to eat," Lowy said. "This is not an impoverished community, so it made me take a few steps back. You don't think of hunger as being in your community."
Inspired by the good that he saw his family's business doing, Lowy — who was working as a marketer for Mercedes-Benz at the time — quit his job and started doing research. He learned that 17 million children in this country are hungry. He discovered that one in seven Americans don't have enough to eat. And he learned the startling statistic that about 40 percent of the food in America ends up in landfills.
"I figured we could do something about this," said Lowy. "Our company made an impact by literally doing nothing — just by doing our job."
In 2009, he set out to create an organization that would help other moving companies do what his family's business had done, and Move for Hunger was born. Lowy is now the executive director of this organization that is definitely not "doing nothing."
An easy way to do good
The idea is so simple it's hard to believe no one thought of it before: Organize existing moving companies to pick up and donate food that their customers otherwise would have thrown out. When one of Move for Hunger's partner moving companies picks up the contents of a home, it also picks up donations of non-perishable food. The moving company makes sure the food donation makes its way to a local food bank.
Move for Hunger now works with more than 650 relocation companies in all 50 states and Canada and has donated more than 7 million pounds of food to local food banks.
The partner companies are independently owned, so Move for Hunger connects customers who need help moving with specific moving companies.
"We train them, we recognize them on social media, and we vet them," said Lowy. "We are working with reputable, professional moving companies. We have said no to some companies, but not many."
In fact, finding a moving company that partners with Move for Hunger is easy with the Find a Mover tool on the organization's website.
The only requirement for donation is that the food needs to be unopened and non-perishable. (Understanding that confusion over use-by dates contributes to unnecessary food waste, the company allows the individual food banks to determine what to do with foods past their use-by, sell-by and best-by dates.)
Organizing food drives
The organization is branching out from its original mission to other ways of getting much-needed donations to food banks, including partnering with those who want to conduct a food drive.
"If someone wants to hold a food drive, there is no better organization than us to partner with," said Lowy. "We create the fliers, brainstorm ideas, provide boxes and send a truck to pick up the food and donate it to the local food bank."
Move for Hunger works with individuals, schools, companies and other organizations on food drives. They've helped school districts conduct "Peanut Butter and Jelly Drives" and corporations organize a "Can the CEO" event where the goal is to get enough food donations to fill the CEOs office so he can't get in.
Lowy has other plans for the company's future, too. There's currently a pilot program in Seattle with apartment complexes, and the company is investigating ways to work with move-it-yourself companies. Moving beyond the U.S. and Canada is a goal, too. After all, hunger and food waste are global problems.
I'm not the only one who sees Move for Hunger as a smart, practical, needed and incredibly useful idea. Lowy and the organization were honored at the 2011 VH1 Do Something Awards. You can see his story and his awards speech in this video: