Each year, US grocery stores waste 9.6 billion pounds of food that 35 million Americans, and 1.1 million New Yorkers, struggle to access.
That’s where Dumbo Moving comes in. The Brooklyn moving company deploys its recognizable bright green trucks to rescue food and deliver it to the communities that need it most-- all at no charge.
“That’s our way to give back,” said Lior Rachmany, the CEO of Dumbo Moving.
At age 20, Rachmany moved from Israel to New York City to pursue music. To sustain himself, he worked as a mover, which inspired him to start his own moving company. In 2007, Dumbo Moving was born. Starting with just a single truck, the company now operates over 200 trucks and employs around 800 New Yorkers.
The company began working with Move for Hunger in 2017 when the two organizations collaborated to save untouched food from a half-marathon run in New Jersey.
Since then, Dumbo Moving has rescued roughly 45,000 pounds of food and provided more than 37,000 meals for families around Brooklyn and beyond.
Recently, the company has upped the ante: Since January 2023, Dumbo Moving has completed six pickups and transported more than 35,000 pounds of food.
Nowadays, Dumbo Moving usually saves food from Trader Joe’s. Each pick-up starts with a phone call: The grocery store reaches out to Move for Hunger, and then Move for Hunger calls Dumbo Moving. Lior assigns some of the movers in the area to grab the food, and that food gets trucked over to food pantries and churches.
“Move for Hunger makes it seamless for us to pretty much plug-and-play,” Rachmany said.
Low-income communities don’t have the same level of access to fresh produce as higher-income neighborhoods. Where Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s may dot the streets of higher-income neighborhoods, lower-income neighborhoods often rely on bodegas for groceries.
“In certain parts of the city, when you go to supermarkets there, you don't see the same variety,” Rachmany said.
Growing up in Israel, Rachmany said this problem wasn’t common in his home country. Instead, he said, people of all demographics shopped in the same supermarkets and had access to the same food. The stark difference inspired him to begin working with Move for Hunger.
“Everybody deserves the same opportunities and the same kind of means that are out there,” he said.
With SNAP benefits receding, this work becomes even more important, as families turn to food pantries as a lifeline.
“The need is getting larger,” said Adam Bianco, the director of marketing at Move for Hunger.
Higher numbers of food-insecure New Yorkers are turning to food pantries for their meals, Bianco said. Oftentimes, finding fresh fruits and vegetables can be difficult within these programs.
“We're trying to help fill that need and also trying to get more fresh food,” Bianco said.
Food waste also contributes to climate change. As unsold produce rots away in landfills, it releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas around 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Scientists estimate that food waste accounts for around 8% of global emissions.
While Dumbo Moving’s community work has already helped thousands of families around the tri-state area, Rachmany said he hopes to increase his company's positive impact.
Next time you spot a bright green Dumbo Moving truck, it might just have some rescued food inside.