App Lets Store Managers Donate Unsold Food To The Hungry

Supermarkets, cafes and restaurants all around the world throw away huge amounts of edible food each day, but a new app has been developed to help shops donate food to those in poverty.

The charity FareShare has turned to technology to help save some of the edible food from the bin and help distribute it to other charities that can use it to feed the poor. A partnership with Tesco in the UK has seen the start of an app being used called FoodCloud. This smartphone app allows Tesco store managers to input food items that are due to be thrown away, charities like FareShare then receive the data about the food and can arrange to collect it.

Tesco has already formed partnerships with FareShare, the organisation that has partnered with FoodCloud, and the pilot has begun at Tesco’s Surrey Quays store in the UK. The program will expand to include another ten locations within four cities to form a trial that encompasses more of the country.

All Tesco stores in Ireland currently use the FoodCloud app and it’s hoped that UK stores will follow the same suit before long. Speaking to Huffington Post, Tesco’s CEO Dave Lewis said “A number of years ago we identified that good waste was an issue for our business”, the company tried to reduce food waste but it didn’t feel good or comfortable about the fact that leftover food was passed its sell-by date but “still perfectly good for human consumption.”

The supermarket chain has recently revealed that it disposed of 55,400 of food over the last 12 months but about 30,000 tons was edible and fit for consumption. Lewis has blamed the weather for partly causing the problem- UK weather is known for sometimes being unpredictable and so changing forecasts can cause foods like salad and fruits to not be bought in the numbers that were planned.

Last month, France made the bold decision to forbid large supermarkets from throwing away food that was fit for human consumption. Tesco’s new scheme is similar, but not quite as drastic as the new French law.

Once Tesco store managers have inputted the amount of leftover food that they have to give, FoodCloud will alert nearby charities to the possible donation and then they can arrange to collect the food at no cost. The places where this food will end up could include homeless hostels, children’s breakfast clubs and women’s shelters.

FareShare and FoodCloud’s work in Ireland has meant that 146 stores have signed up to the scheme and 431 tons of food has been redistributed, the equivalent of around 1 million meals. Chief executive of FareShare Lindsay Boswell has said “We understand customers get angry when they see food being wasted in their local store. We do too and that is why we have spent 20 years developing our successful charity redistribution model”. Over 300 charities and community groups have already benefited from the app in Ireland and Tesco is keen to use the technology to save more food from the bin.

FoodCloud was created by two social entrepreneurs, Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien. Speaking about FoodCloud’s partnership with Tesco stores in Ireland, CEO Ward said “We have come up with an efficient solution to bring businesses and charities within the same communities together to make sure that no good food goes to waste”. Ward has been named as one of TIME’s Next Generation Leaders following the success of FoodCloud in Ireland. She said that when the organisation first contacted Tesco, they were unsure what to expect as they were basing their proposal on feedback that they’d heard from charities.

Since FoodCloud first began helping charities in October 2013, the platform has gone from strength to strength and the simple idea of connecting charities and organisations with surplus food from retailers through technology has been a big hit with all. The UK partnership with Tesco will help the app to facilitate the redistribution of even more food and from there may spread to other countries too.

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