Would You Leave a Six-Figure Job to Feed the Homeless? This 24-Year-Old Did.

Robert Lee's organization has delivered more then 250,000 pounds of food around America simply by getting restaurants to make better use of their leftovers.

december january 2016 everyday heroes robert leeMike McGregor for Reader's Digest

As an elementary school student in New York City, Robert Lee would stare in disbelief at his classmates throwing away half-eaten sandwiches after lunch. His Korean immigrant parents had taught him and his older brother not to waste food. “They said it was bad karma,” says Robert, 24.

While studying finance and accounting at New York University, Robert remembered this lesson and joined Two Birds One Stone, a food-rescue club on campus that delivered, five days a week, uneaten pasta, vegetables, and other leftovers from the dining hall to nearby homeless shelters.

When Robert and fellow club member Louisa Chen entered a college entrepreneurship contest, they proposed a slightly different idea for a food-rescue nonprofit group: Their program wouldn’t have a donation minimum (meaning they would gladly pick up one bag of leftover bagels or a single pot of soup), would operate seven days a week, and would be staffed entirely by volunteers.

Their idea won the competition. With the $1,000 prize, they founded Rescuing Leftover Cuisine (RLC) in July 2013. In just the first few weeks, Robert’s team delivered a donation of enough spaghetti and meatballs to feed 20 people in line at a New York City homeless shelter that had run out of food.

Robert, who had taken a job as an analyst at J.P. Morgan, devoted his spare time to creating a network of New York City restaurants, from mom-and-pop delis to large chains like Starbucks and Panera Bread, that agreed to donate food, and he enlisted volunteers to make food deliveries to homeless shelters. After RLC received national press attention, homeless shelters and soup kitchens in Portland, Oregon; Washington, DC; and other cities reached out to Robert for partnership advice. To date, RLC has distributed more than 250,000 pounds of food in 12 cities around the country.

Only a year into his finance job, Robert gave up his six-figure salary to focus on RLC. “I compared one hour of impact at J.P. Morgan to one hour at RLC, and the difference was just tremendous,” he says. He’s now the group’s only full-time employee.

“One shelter recently told us that our donations allow them to provide entire dinners for more than 300 people, three nights a week,” Robert says. “Things like that make me glad I quit my job.”


Read More:

How a City Bus-Turned-Shower Station Is Helping the Homeless Regain Their Dignity >>
She Invented a Coat to Help the Homeless, But Now It Has an Even Better Use>>

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.

Funny Jokes

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

Funny Jokes

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

Funny Jokes

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


Funny Jokes

A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.

From clientsfromhell.net

Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.