Food Rescue Intervention Evaluations: A Systematic Review
Food rescue, the practice of gathering food that could otherwise be wasted and redirecting it for human consumption, represents a critical opportunity to improve food security and reduce waste. As global interest in reducing hunger and food waste grows, better insight is needed to assess and compare the effectiveness of different models of food rescue. We conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed studies evaluating food rescue interventions with the aim of synthesizing findings and comparing methodologies. We searched PubMed, Academic Search Ultimate, and Science Citation Index for studies published worldwide, in English, through June 2019. Studies were included that: a) evaluated an existing or proposed food rescue intervention and, b) quantitatively or qualitatively measured the intervention impact. All nineteen included studies were observational and the intervention types ranged widely. The most commonly reported metric was the weight of food recovered. Few studies reported client outcome measures. The included studies suggested promising effects of food rescue interventions, including positive return on investment, decreased environmental burden, large quantities of food rescued and clients served, and high stakeholder satisfaction. Comparison across studies was challenging, however, due to inconsistent metrics and insufficiently detailed methodology. This review documents a need for additional evaluation of food rescue interventions and recommends a standardized methodology. Additional dialogue among key stakeholders is warranted to develop consistent, meaningful metrics to assess food rescue.