In 8 years, Carol Rabun and her nonprofit Carol’s Kindness+ have saved hundreds of thousands of pounds of food from the landfill and fed over 100,000 people.
Carol’s Kindness+ started in 2015 when Carol Rabun simply needed to find greens for her new potbelly pig. That initial need for greens spontaneously formed an Austin social group which grew into a food pantry feeding over 1,000 people each month.
The food pantry rescues usable food from grocers, restaurants, and other food industry sources that otherwise would be sent to landfills and places it in the hands of families and individuals in our community. Carol and her group of ever-present volunteers use their personal vehicles to pick up food donations, then transfer it directly from the pickup location to the distribution location and into the hands of those in need. The food available varies day-to-day but is usually healthy food that is either in excess inventory or is not marketable at retail due to nearing expiration dates or slight defects like bruises. Carol’s Kindness+ “food rescues” are designed to be quick so that the food spends minimal time in transport.
The group served the community out of Carol’s home for years and at some pop-up locations in partnership with other organizations like Kerby’s Clothing Ministry to meet community members in need right where they were. However, in the last year, Carol’s Kindness+ has served the community out of the Gus Garcia Recreation Center in east Austin.
Any excess food left from the food pantry is sent to other organizations, like ATX Fridges and The Charlie Center. Carol’s Kindness+ also works with Austin Mutual Aid and supports 6-7 other organizations each feeding 100s per week. In partnering with Austin Mutual Aid they help provide a food pantry for Austin Mutual Aid’s participants, increasing food accessibility to their low-income, majority BIPOC neighborhoods.
The food rescue process is simple, sustainable, and reliable. Food rescue is extremely effective because it simultaneously gets food to those who need it, reduces food waste, and minimizes the number of toxic emissions from food going to landfills. While the focus is on rescuing food, Carol’s Kindness+ also provides information about resources in the community including housing information, financial assistance, job postings/fairs, medical care, and other free or reduced-cost help.