That’s why, for Megha Kulshreshtha’s nonprofit Food Connect Group, it’s gotta be a full-circle moment getting the blessing of the National Football League (NFL) to be its partner during the 2017 NFL Draft, happening April 27 to 29 at Eakins Oval.
The NFL tapped the organization as the “premier food rescue service” during the NFL Draft, and the aims are set high: an estimate of 10,000 pounds of food from vendors, events and local restaurants are expected to be collected and donated to Philly food banks, pantries and soup kitchens.
Kulshreshtha said that when the Democratic National Convention came to town over 11,000 pounds of food were spared from the waste bin because of Food Connect. “Now the NFL will be able to take advantage of the app and make donations in real time,” said the Villanova grad.
Just like it did during the DNC, the recent push is part of a broader effort called Operation Food Rescue: a collaborative effort between Food Connect and organizations like Philabundance, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the City’s Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet and the Philadelphia Office of Special Events.
But it’s also part of a decades-old push within the league to lower the environmental impact of NFL-organized events. Just ask Jack Groh, head of the NFL Environmental Program. He’ll swiftly take you down a stroll down memory lane.
“The NFL was the first professional sports league to address the environmental impact of sports events,” Groh told Technical.ly. “Starting 26 years ago in 1993, in preparation for Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta. We started out with a small recycling project and have grown into a comprehensive suite of projects that includes solid waste management, food waste reduction and food donation, as well as the reuse and repurposing of all event materials.”
Groh called the push an “often-unknown” part of the League’s work during major events like the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft, the latter of which is expected to lure some 200,000 visitors to the city (oh, and also, this sports startups competition)
The exec said the NFL caught wind of the platform thanks to their work during the DNC. And it’s looking like there’s potential beyond just the draft event: “If the concept is successful at this event, we will reconnect with Megha to discuss ways we could do something similar in other cities,” said Groh.