JEE Foods

A student-powered nonprofit, dedicated to ending the cycles of hunger and poverty through food rescue.

Photo of Alayna Meade
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Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website: Twitter: @JeeFoods- Instagram: jee.foods- Youtube :

Date You Started Your Project Started

January 5, 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Across the nation, 1 in 8 people are food insecure, meaning they don’t have access to a stable source of food. We can see this effect firsthand. Within our community of Hamilton, Ohio, 18.5% of families are food insecure, and over a quarter of the population live below the poverty line. But while almost 48 million Americans are affected by hunger, we throw away 40% of the food we produce, or over 133 billion pounds of food each year.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

JEE Foods takes food that would have been wasted and rescues it. We then transform the food to elongate it’s shelf life, by either dehydrating produce into chips or flash freezing them for later use. Other rescued food is normally refrigerated or frozen and held until distribution. After sorting through our donated food and preparing it for delivery, we then donate the food to those food insecure. Families or individuals from the community contact us when they are in need and we are able to give them our rescued food. To reduce waste in our process overall, we compost any parts of produce that aren’t transformable. As we’ve researched this issue, we realize that the issue of hunger stems from poverty. To stop the ongoing cycle of hunger and poverty, we’re implementing a three-prong approach; Jobs, Education, and Economy. Low-income individuals in the community are able to come to us and receive food safety training and on the job experience, to help them find a job in future employment opportunities, helping to make them more financially self-sustainable. By tackling the root issue of poverty and hunger, we are aiming to make the world a more sustainable place.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

The main mission of JEE Foods is to combat food insecurity through food rescue. By doing so, we are able to reduce the amount of waste in our communities and help to make our environment a better place. Food waste causes 87% of carbon emissions into our atmosphere, and by rescuing food, we can reduce this. Even though food rescue is a start in the right direction to combating the global waste issue, there are still more combatants that need to be solved. All around, JEE Foods is working to help our environment through innovation and entrepreneurial skills we’ve learned through STEM. We’re advocating for more green practices that help to grow a sustainable environment. We realize that a big change needs to start small, so we’ve been working with our school’s cafeteria to help see the bigger picture of waste, by either food waste that could have been rescued or trash that could have been recycled. To reduce this waste, we’ve proposed simple, but effective solutions to these problems, such as using reusable trays, investing in more recycling, and even introducing the idea of compost.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Our community of Hamilton, Ohio, as well as the major city surrounding us, Cincinnati, are one of the most hard hit towns with poverty and hunger. A huge majority of the population is food insecure and we are able to see that right in our hometown, even down into our school. When we were challenged to step up and make a difference in our community, we knew that food insecurity needed to be tackled. Through research, we found that food waste is another issue in our community. After starting our initiative, we’ve been able to see the impact firsthand. Hearing the stories of the peoples’ lives we’ve impacted has shown us that we can make a change. Even though we may be in high school, we can still make a change.

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

Our organization started as a challenge that grew into an idea. After research and collaboration with our mentor, we were able to see the link between poverty and a lack of education, so we decided that an approach to not only solve the problem of food waste and insecurity, but a way to solve the poverty epidemic through education. As we venture into our third year, we have already reduced 10,000 pounds with over 4,000 community members impacted.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

JEE Foods breaks the traditional barrier of a food pantry by utilizing food rescue. Most food banks and pantries collect food from the public that would have been used or non-perishable items. JEE introduces the idea of rescuing food that would have been wasted and transforming it to give to those in need. JEE Foods aims to make the world more sustainable, through environmental actions as well as economically. In the early stages of our organization, we realized that hunger and poverty go hand in hand, so we developed our three seed approach to fighting the cycle; Jobs, Education, and Economy.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

Within the course of our establishment, we’ve been able to change many lives in our community. Many of those we serve are having a very tough time in their lives and it’s very touching for us to see that we have made an impact on someone’s life. One story that impacted us very deeply was one of a woman and her husband, who had been struggling with hunger for a very long time, even throughout her childhood. One day, her parents sat her family down and they dreamed about enjoying a nice meal of chicken. Then the doorbell rang and a good samaritan had brought the family a dinner of chicken. A similar experience occurred for her and her husband, who had sat down and were thinking about a nice meal of rice that they wanted to have on their table and JEE Foods had returned their call for food assistance. Stories like hers inspire us to do what we do and know that our work is helping someone.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

As the current condition of the pandemic continues to change, we have decided to keep working on our mission remotely. By tacking into our innovative skills, we have continued to move forward with our organization, setting up more food donor relationships and planning out the next phases for some of our projects. One of our major projects is the implementation of our mobile market. We will be able to bring rescued and transformed food to areas in our community that has been identified as food deserts, or areas that don’t have easy access to fresh produce. By bringing the food to those affected, we will be able to drastically increase the number of people we serve.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

Throughout our establishment, we have been able to influence over 50 high school students just through our organization. In our local middle school, an environmental group has taken shape, dedicated to making their school greener and more sustainable. After talking with their teacher, they landed on the idea of stacking strays near trash cans at the end of lunch instead of throwing them away. A simple task like this made an impact with the custodial staff saving 8-10 bags of trash a day.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

Partnering with others is a great way to establish connections and relationships crucial to a successful project. By partnering with other organizations and through collaboration, we’ve been able to make it to the place we are now. We’ve already collaborated and been into contact with amazing changemakers making a difference in the world. Through collaboration, we’ve been able to share ideas, collaborate, and build bonds that will be able to take our project, as well as theirs, to the next step.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

JEE Foods enhances the everyday idea of food and transforms it to impact those in need. Everyone can become a part of our mission by simply saving food. We strive to change the way people look at their food, not just as food, but a resource that those who are food insecure don’t have the ability to access. We enable changemakers to see through the normal views of their food and to realize that they can truly make a difference in the world by completing one simple task: reducing waste.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
  • Email

Evaluation results

24 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 79.2%

Probably - 0%

Maybe - 20.8%

Probably not - 0%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 62.5%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 16.7%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 16.7%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 4.2%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 66.7%

4 - Yes, I think so - 25%

3 - Maybe - 8.3%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 15.8%

3 - Maybe - 10.5%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 70.8%

4 - Yes, I think so - 12.5%

3 - Maybe - 4.2%

2 - Probably not - 12.5%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4- Yes, I think so - 31.3%

3- Maybe - 6.3%

2- Probably not - 6.3%

1- No - 6.3%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 90%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 100%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 100%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 50%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 70%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 33.3%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 50%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 33.3%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 33.3%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 83.3%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 66.7%

Other option - 0%


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Photo of Jasmine Robert

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