These Philadelphians Found a Brilliant Way to Stop Wasting Food

food connect
Thomas Jackson / Getty Images

The amount of food we waste is depressing.

From giving ugly vegetables the cold shoulder to thinking we’re too busy to properly dispose of it, we waste a whopping $160 billion in food each year.

*heavy sigh*

But, we have some good news: Philadelphians have created an app that helps curb food waste and feed those in need.

After observing food waste and food insecurity — often side-by-side — Villanova alum Megha Kulshreshta and her brother developed Food Connect. While the app was only intended to be used during the Democratic National Convention in late July, it helped collect and redistribute 11,239 pounds of food in eight days.

Because of that success, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced Food Connect will now operate year-round, reports Philly Mag.

That’s awesome!

How Food Connect Prevents Food Waste

The free app “bridges the gap” between companies with extra food — restaurants, caterers and event venues — and organizations such as food pantries, food banks and community shelters, by providing easy, volunteer-driven pickup and delivery services.

The idea is to get people to think twice before picking up a trash bag when they’re faced with excess food — and encourage them to pick up their phones instead.

To use the app, which is available for both iPhone and Android, all you have to do is enter your location and the kinds of food you want to donate or receive, and the volunteers take care of the rest.

While some restaurants may be reluctant to donate food waste due to liability, Food Connect enforces strict safety guidelines to make sure the donated food is safe for consumption. In addition, recipients are required to sign a waiver that releases donors from liability, providing an extra safety net on top of the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.

And for donors, it gets even better…

The food donations are tax-deductible, meaning companies that donate their extra food will get a little bit of a break from the IRS next tax season.

Could Food Connect expand its network and help cut down those depressing food waste statistics in other cities? We’re crossing our fingers.

Your Turn: What do you think about the Food Connect app? Would you like to see it in your city?

Kelly Smith is an editorial intern at The Penny Hoarder and a senior at The University of Tampa. She hated seeing all of the food that went to waste when she worked in a restaurant.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.