Extra Food? There's an App for That.

The Lempert Report
July 10, 2015

With US households creating a huge amount of food waste every year, now’s the time for retailers and consumers to get involved.

With a recent survey from the American Chemistry Council stating thatAmerican households throw away about $640 each worth of food every year, we're reminded of the importance of programs that promote food recovery and aim to reduce waste. 

One example is Feeding Forward, a website and mobile app that matches businesses who have surplus food with nearby homeless shelters. The way it works is relatively simple, when companies or event planners have surplus food, they tap the Feeding Forward app and provide details of their donation. A driver is dispatched to quickly pick up the leftovers and deliver them to food banks. Feeding Forward launched in 2013, and so far only serves the San Francisco Bay Area, but in that short time the company has recovered more than 684,000 pounds of food. That equals an amount that's fed more than 570,000 people and diverted more than 3.42 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from landfills.

While food recovery isn't a new idea in itself, think food bank and rescue centers, what's changed is the on demand factor. Food waste recovery programs can be tough and donating food in the US isn't easy, primarily because leftovers are perishable and need to be donated quickly. Now the tech industry has become involved the idea of on demand food delivery is taking off. 

Also in the bay area is on-demand food delivery service Munchery, that donates leftover food to food banks in the Bay Area. An app called LeftoverSwap, helps people give away their leftovers to strangers. And Food Cowboy app, picks up food from wholesalers and restaurants and delivers it to soup kitchens.

Supermarkets too should think about how they can be involved in this on demand food donation. With fresh produce and other goods that have reached their expiry date, why not set up immediate delivery services to soup kitchens or set up community cooking  classes that can utilize food and produce that is headed for the trash can? From retailers to consumers we should all be doing our part to make a difference.