Using your phone to fight food waste

Lynn, a volunteer at a food bank, holding bell peppers
May 13, 2019
by Allison Weber

As restaurants and grocery stores offer more fresh, healthy options and look for ways to conserve the environment, Feeding America is testing new methods to rescue that food when it’s in danger of going to waste. Instead of being discarded, Feeding America’s food rescue tech platform, MealConnect, helps divert that food so it can instead reach struggling families.

MealConnect connects restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses with food to donate with local food banks and food pantries that serve people in need. Businesses post food donations on the MealConnect platform and an algorithm determines which local food bank or food pantry is best-placed to pick up their donations.

MealConnect has already rescued more than 1 billion pounds of food, and supporters like General Mills are enabling us to test new technologies and methods so we can prevent food waste and feed hungry people on an even larger scale. Now, food banks are beginning to engage members of their community as volunteers to pick up and drop off food donations in their neighborhoods using MealConnect.

What does this look like? A food bank volunteer receives an alert on her phone when her local deli posts a donation of turkey sandwiches on MealConnect.  She accepts the donation, and on her way home from work, she picks up the sandwiches from the deli and drops them off at a nearby food pantry. That evening, hungry people who visit the food pantry enjoy the sandwiches instead of the deli throwing them away—and it’s all thanks to that volunteer’s help.

Seven food banks have already rescued an incredible 265,000 pounds of food through this exciting program—Central Texas Food Bank, Maryland Food Bank, River Bend Food Bank, God's Pantry Food Bank, Inc., San Antonio Food Bank, Second Harvest Heartland and Capital Area Food Bank. The program will launch at other food banks across the country this year, offering many more people a new way to volunteer to help feed hungry people and protect the planet.

Want to do more to fight food waste? By making use of your leftover ingredients and reducing kitchen waste, you can ensure good food gets eaten instead of being thrown out.