Bankrupt Bodega owner to bike 412 miles in one week for 412 Food Rescue fundraiser | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Bankrupt Bodega owner to bike 412 miles in one week for 412 Food Rescue fundraiser

click to enlarge Pat Bruener - PHOTO: PAT HOGAN
Photo: Pat Hogan
Pat Bruener
In less than 24 hours, Pat Bruener raised over $2,000 for 412 Food Rescue. So he decided to push the goal up to $4,000.

On Mon., May 18, Bruener announced his 412 Miles For 412 Food Rescue fundraiser, for which the local photographer will attempt to ride 412 miles (rain or shine) to raise money for 412 Food Rescue's new program, Community Takeout. The program supports restaurants during the pandemic by providing compensation for restaurant workers to create single-serve meals that will then get distributed to local families in need.

"The importance of organizations like 412 Food Rescue, Just Harvest, and others is so undoubtedly important to our city," says Bruener. "Sometimes, causes like these can go unnoticed because not everyone has struggled with access to food, or maybe people haven't experienced the financial burden that the weekly grocery trip can be. I love that 412 Food Rescue focuses on the importance of recovering food that would otherwise go to waste."

412 Food Rescue has recovered more than 1.33 million pounds of food so far this year, providing 1.11 million meals, and preventing 725,668 lbs. of CO2 from releasing into the atmosphere.

"Those statistics coming from a nonprofit in Pittsburgh are just amazing to me," says Bruener.

Bruener, who in addition to photography runs the Pittsburgh-based clothing Bankrupt Bodega, only recently started biking over large distances at the onset of the quarantine. City Paper chatted with him about the fundraiser and his lofty goal of 412 miles in a week.

What made you get into biking during quarantine?

I've always been into biking. While studying at Pitt, I worked for Jimmy John's as a bicycle courier for nearly four years, sometimes biking 10-12 hours a day. As I got older, it became more of a leisure activity and a way for me to see the city in unique perspectives. I would always bring a camera along, and still do to this day. When the quarantine started I was really looking for a mental and physical release from everything going on, plus I figured cycling is a pretty safe way to stay active while social distancing. When I started to realize the benefits for both my mental and physical health, I just started staying on the bike longer and longer every day. Now I'm averaging about 25-30 miles a day, and two or three times a week will go out for a 50-60 mile ride. 412 miles in a week breaks down to just under 60 miles a day, so it's really important to hit that mark.

Why the decision to make a solo venture instead of bringing in others?
For me, this is really a personal journey. It's about finding something within myself. When you're out on a 60-mile ride and mile 40 comes around, you really have to know yourself mentally and physically, and commit to getting those last 20 miles done. Also, I'm probably really annoying to ride with. I like to go at my own pace and stop to take photos and smell the roses.

How will you keep track of how many miles you bike during your bikeathon?
I track the mileage on my phone using an app called Strava. I also use another mile tracking app as a backup in case something goes wrong. This way I can almost always be certain that I'll have an accurate reading.

Is there anything you're nervous about?
I am most nervous about how sore my butt will be.

Where did your original goal of $2,000 come from?
[It seemed like] a realistic goal. Obviously every donation counts and we would like to see that number be as high as possible. But with $2,000, that's 200 meals! I think that would be a fantastic impact on local restaurants and local families.

Anything else you feel is important to know?
The 412 Food Rescue app is free to download on Android or iPhone. With the app, you can volunteer to pick up food that would otherwise go to landfill or be wasted, and redirect it to local nonprofits that serve those who are food insecure.

I think it's so cool what 412 Food Rescue is doing with the Food Rescue app. They really seem to be on the forefront of a movement that creates useful technologies to connect nonprofits with the general public and available volunteers.

Also, you can tag along on my rides by following @BankruptBodega on Instagram. I'll be sharing mile updates, photos, and videos from my travels around the Pittsburgh area, and going live periodically to promote the fundraiser.

Donations to Bruener's GoFundMe for 412 Food Rescue can be made here.

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