It is estimated that in the U.S. alone, the average family throws away 20 pounds
of food every month. Yet, 1 in 6 Americans
still struggle with hunger. In an effort to reduce waste while promoting community engagement, several new initiatives are encouraging diners to share their leftover meals with one another.
: Online cooperative Mealku
provides neighbors with a simplified process for sharing leftovers. Pre-screened “HomeCooks” use the platform’s online reservation system to list available dishes that fellow members within their region can claim for that day. Then, a Mealku liaison facilitates the exchange by supplying the transport containers and delivering the foodstuffs to the recipient’s home or predetermined Mealku hub location. As the platform’s intent is to build community
, no money is ever exchanged. Rather, payment
is conducted through the service’s Ku system, which allows members to earn points by cooking, reviewing meals online, or even introducing new people to the co-op.
is a UK-based project by social innovation startup FutureGov
that couples leftover meal portions with hungry neighbors. Community members post their extra dishes onto the site’s “menu,” detailing what it is, when and where it was cooked, and how many uneaten servings are available. Cooks
can choose to list their meals as a one-off occasion or sign up for Casserole’s Pair Up project, where they agree to share meals with another diner on a regular basis. The company also acts as an intermediary by connecting people who aren’t on the Internet—many participating diners are over 80-years-old—through a phone service.
Swipes for Homeless
: The unused meal swipes of dorm-dwelling college students typically expire at the end of each academic term. A group of UCLA
students developed a charitable way to leverage such waste with their nonprofit Swipes for Homeless
. Before the semester comes to an end, Swipes for Homeless sets up locations across the campus and encourages students to donate their remaining meals to those tackling hunger and homelessness in L.A. Every swipe is converted into a nutritious meal package that gets distributed to local homeless shelters and individuals living on the streets. More than 30,000 pounds of food have been donated since the program’s inception.