Rush Surplus Project
Surplus Food Provides Meals To Those In Need While Reducing Food Waste
Jennifer Grenier, DNP, RN-BC
The Rush Surplus Project was founded by Jennifer Grenier, Director of Nursing for Rush Rehab, in 2015. The project initially launched at Rush Oak Park Hospital (ROPH). Prior to implementation of this project, it was not recognized how much extra food was simply being thrown away. As a result, the Rush Surplus Project used this extra food to help provide more than 4,000 meals to those in need within the first year.
In 2016, a job change brought Grenier back to Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) and the program was launched there, as well as being maintained at ROPH. At RUMC, the Rush Surplus Project donates the leftover food from all of the cafeterias, kitchens, and catering to Franciscan Outreach, an organization that serves the homeless.
The food provided to Franciscan Outreach helps supplement the food they receive from the Greater Chicago Food Depository, allowing the meals to be balanced, complete, and help those who are food insecure. Similar to ROPH, RUMC has decreased their monthly food waste totals from 75 pounds per day to about 30 pounds.
In addition to the Surplus Project to address food insecurity, Top Box Foods was initiated. This program allows Rush staff to purchase fresh produce for themselves or donate a box of fresh produce to local shelters. Also, there are plans in the works to open the Rush Food Pantry to help address the food insecurity needs of our patients.