MEANS (Matching Excess And Needs for Stability) Database is an online platform connecting those with excess food, like grocery stores, co-ops, and restaurants, with nearby emergency food providers who serve those in need. Our organization has two major goals: to reduce food waste and reroute that food to feed people facing food insecurity. MEANS has been working in the anti-hunger space for six years and has adapted to meet the needs of clients and those in need remotely during this unprecedented time.
pounds of food
states + DC
MEANS (Matching Excess and Need for Stability) Database launched in February 2015 with the belief that it should be easy for those with excess food to share with those in need. Our organization was founded by Maria Rose Belding, who witnessed the challenges faced by emergency feeding system staff as a volunteer at her local food pantry. Maria Rose reached a turning point when she had to throw out hundreds of boxes of macaroni and cheese while people waited in line for food outside of her local food pantry. At that moment, she knew there must be a better way to distribute food and reduce food waste.
Over the Years
Maria Rose founded MEANS Database with Grant Nelson while they were both students in the Washington, D.C. area. Maria Rose wanted to build a website to reduce food waste and modernize the food donation system. A large portion of the food recovery space still relies on phone trees and fax machines. Grant, who is proficient in coding, used his expertise to build the technology behind MEANS. Together, they created the database and launched a system that has revolutionized food recovery.
Almost six years later, MEANS Database has expanded its network to over 3,000 users in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and has successfully recovered over 3.4 million pounds of food. Through our website platform, businesses and nonprofits have the ability to post their excess food and notifications are sent to nearby emergency food providers, who have the option to claim the donation. MEANS has moved every type of food imaginable, from our first recovery in 2015 of canned beans to over 50,000 pounds of beef in California. Our goals haven’t changed: to assist with the mitigation of food insecurity and reduce food waste.
Our Response to COVID-19
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MEANS has expanded into also providing meals to nonprofit organizations serving their community by paying local, majority BIPOC-owned restaurants to make catering orders. This program not only provides balanced meals for those in need, but also assists local businesses that are struggling due to the economic impact of the pandemic. The Community Meal Program has allowed us to serve over 500,000 meals, investing more than $3.5 million into small businesses in nine cities nationwide. Our impact is clear: MEANS Database is making a very real difference in the areas of food recovery and redistribution.
In 2021, MEANS continued to run the Community Meal Program supporting over one hundred nonprofits across the country as they helped their local communities face the challenges left by COVID-19. The organization also continued its work in Florida and Rhode Island by making deeper connections in those areas and recovering over 50,000 pounds of food between the two states in less than a year. Internally, Co-Founder Maria Rose Belding transitioned to Chair of the Board as she attends medical school and Sammie Paul became acting director of the organization. MEANS hopes to continue expanding our network across the country by working directly with mutual aid organizations and other emergency food providers on the ground in their communities.