The world has more than enough food to feed everyone, yet 815 million people go hungry every day. Approximately 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year — food that could be used to help address the world’s hunger problem.
In recent years, the tech industry has turned to the power of mobile apps to collect and synchronize data to fight food waste and curb global hunger. In fact, ReFed — a network of businesses, nonprofits, and governments looking to create an industry of reducing waste — believes that innovative solutions can cut the 63 million tons of food wasted in the United States annually in half and generate up to $18.2 billion dollars.
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Across the globe, designers and engineers are using technology to reduce food waste and help feed the hungry by making food production, storage, transportation, distribution, and consumption more efficient.
These five apps are disrupting the way we produce, transport, and use food, helping to prevent spoilage and stop wasteful behavior.
Our Web-Based #app includes these features;— Chowberry (@ChowberryHQ) January 31, 2018
•Automated tracking & monitoring of expiration dates
•Automated discount generation
•Real-time reporting & analysis tools
•Consumer marketplace for the sale & purchase of food products approaching expiration pic.twitter.com/qtd2nmrfn6
Chowberry is a Nigeria-based app that allows users to find products close to expiration offered at Nigerian supermarkets (but still safe to eat) at deep discounts.
Every minute, six Nigerians fall below the extreme poverty line and many of them don’t have enough food. Chowberry creator Oscar Ekponimo is no stranger to that hunger.
“I recall one instance when all I ate in a 48-hour period was a biscuit snack a friend shared with me at school,” he told Ventures Africa. Years later, after graduating college with a degree in computer science, Ekponimo was walking through a supermarket when the idea for Chowberry came to him.
The app offers a profitable means for retailers to off-load food that would otherwise go to waste. Retailers not only gain revenue from selling the discounted product but also avoid throwing out unsold food — all while making food accessible to those who might not otherwise be able to afford to eat.
Co-founded by Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One, OLIO is an app that connects neighbors and local businesses in England to each other enabling them to share surplus food instead of wasting it.
Cook first thought of the idea while trying to quickly eat all the food in her Switzerland apartment before she moved back to England. Unable to finish, she walked around with six sweet potatoes, a whole cabbage, and a few packages of yogurt, looking for someone to give them to. Feeling awkward about knocking on doors and asking strangers, she gave up her search — the food was wasted.
Defeated, she wondered, “Why isn’t there an app where I can share [extra food] with someone nearby who wants it?” So she created one.
Today, OLIO has 260,534 users and 401,208 food items have been shared through the platform since the pilot launched across England in the spring of 2015.
Winnow’s mission is to create a movement of conscientious chefs to reduce the amount of food waste that comes from commercial kitchens. The UK-based smart tech company allows commercial kitchens to weigh and classify every item that is thrown out, and calculates its value. By showing kitchens exactly how much food they waste and how much that costs them, the company hopes to encourage better habits.
“You ask people what they throw away and they say they think it’s 3% to 5% of what they buy, when the reality is somewhere between 5% and 20% – most of it happening before it even gets to a plate,” founder Marc Zornes told the Guardian.
Winnow connects commercial kitchens from around the world to their cloud database where they collate, analyze, the optimize kitchens to not only help them save money but reduce environmental waste as well. The company encourage chefs to inspire others #ForTheLoveOfFood.
4. Food for All
Launched in 2016 with a Kickstarter campaign, Food for All is a mobile app through which hungry people can buy restaurants’ leftovers at a discount, helping to increase access to affordable meals while also reducing food waste.
“Food waste is disrespectful on so many levels — to the hungry, to the people that spend their time cooking, and to our natural resources. Yet, it is a practice that is generally accepted and this is what makes fighting it so challenging,” Sabine Valenga, co-founder of Food for All, said in a press release. Valenga and the Food for All team hope to change those norms.
Food for All’s business model is similar to Chowberry’s: Customers buy food at a discount and companies gain revenue and save food from going in the trash. The app can be used in both Boston and New York.
Another app for thrifty restaurant-goers looking for a deal is TangoTab. TangoTab offers users in Dallas, Texas, discounts at local restaurants that they can activate by checking in. For every customer who checks in through the app, TangoTab generates a “Success Fee” that is used to support a local food organization and cover the cost of a meal for someone in need.
“Americans eat out north of a billion meals in restaurants every week,” said Andre Angel, who started the company in 2012. By allowing consumers and restaurants to work together to help feed people, “we’re working in this together to end [hunger] here at home”.
Global Citizen supports the Global Goals, including Goal No. 2, ending global hunger. You can take action here to be part of the generation to end extreme poverty.