Alyssa Cholodofsky begins role as CEO of 412 Food Rescue
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Alyssa Cholodofsky begins role as CEO of 412 Food Rescue

New leader touts organization's 'people powered solution'

412 Food Rescue CEO Alyssa Cholodofsky, left, lends a hand. (Photo courtesy of Liz Fetchin)
412 Food Rescue CEO Alyssa Cholodofsky, left, lends a hand. (Photo courtesy of Liz Fetchin)

Former Squirrel Hill resident Alyssa Cholodofsky is hungry to feed more Pittsburghers.

Given the success of 412 Food Rescue, achieving that objective should be easy as pie, explained Cholodofsky, the organization’s new CEO.

Founded in 2015, 412 Food Rescue reduces waste by responsibly redirecting items to food-insecure community members. Since its establishment, the group, and its thousands of volunteers, has recovered more than 31 million pounds of food — the equivalent of more than 26 million meals — and mitigated more than 60 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Cholodofsy, 57, praised the organization’s work and credited 412 Food Rescue with developing a “people-powered solution” to a sizable problem.

So much time is spent “thinking about how we can bring people together to really think about solutions that will work across the community,” she said.

Thanks to its simple platform, 412 Food Rescue can easily engage with diverse volunteers and stakeholders, Cholodofsy continued.

After downloading the app, volunteers are notified about upcoming food rescues. Volunteers then elect to perform either one-time tasks or undertake weekly routes of retrieving and delivering fresh food.

New 412 Food Rescue CEO Alyssa Cholodofsky (Photo courtesy of Liz Fetchin)

“Everybody has an opportunity to be part of it,” Cholodofsy said. “That’s kind of the beauty of working through the software platform or the app that we have.”

The interface enables participants to branch out across the city.

“Any individual can go on and select a rescue and make a difference, whether it’s in their community or another adjacent community,” she said.

Cholodofsky, whose children were bar mitzvahed at Temple David in Monroeville, said 412 Food Rescue’s goals are consistent with familiar principles.

“Part of Jewish values, as I understand them, are repair the world and social justice,” she said.

“We know that there’s an environmental impact in the community that we are all part of, and just making sure that people are fed is such a basic thing that I think we can all agree on.”

The Agriculture Department maintains that 12.8% of households are food- insecure nationwide.

Within Pittsburgh, that number is higher.

More than 60,000 residents — approximately 20% — struggle to secure “healthy, adequate and culturally appropriate food,” according to Pittsburgh’s Department of Planning.

Cholodofsy, who comes to 412 Food Rescue after serving as chief program and policy officer at the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, said she recognizes local residents’ immediate needs: “We want to make sure that whether it’s because of access, or transportation or financial, that food is not a barrier to people getting healthy nutritious food.”

Part of combating food insecurity is understanding equity, she explained.

“We want to make sure that we’re not leaving anybody out when we try to look for solutions or impact into specific neighborhoods or populations of people, but really try to listen to all voices and make sure that everybody has an opportunity to be part of it,” she said.

Securing inclusion means providing effortless entry for volunteers and those yet to perform their first rescue.

“It’s very easy to get involved,” she said.

And once they do, volunteers can not only reshape Pittsburgh but secure a promising future.

The Midrash states upon a person’s demise they will be asked about their labor.

If the person answers, “I used to feed the hungry,” according to rabbinic literature, they will be told, “This is God’s gate. You, who fed the hungry, may enter.” PJC

Adam Reinherz can be reached at

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