Food waste is a serious problem in America – in 2010 alone the US threw away 33 million tons of food! What is even more shocking is that according to the EPA, food waste accounts for almost 14% of the total municipal solid waste stream, of which less than 3% is recycled. Considering the number of people starving in the country, it is an outrage – and this is why a team of Arizona State University students decided to do something about it. They have created an app called FlashFood that connects those with extra food to those in need of food – before it hits the dumpster.
The student team of Ramya Baratam, Steven Hernandez, Katelyn Keberle, Eric Lehnhardt, Loni Amundson, and Jake Irvin designed the social media-powered app to create a mobile food recovery network. The system works to feed the hungry by collecting excess food from restaurants, caterers, and conventions and delivering it to nearby community centers.
If a hotel or restaurant has excess food, instead of throwing it away they can simply use the app to inform a local community organization that they wish to donate it. That organization can then reply and organize someone to pick up the food and alert recipients of incoming food donations at local community centers.
“One in five children in America goes to bed hungry every night, and FlashFood’s home state of Arizona has the third highest rate of child food insecurity in America,” write the students on the FlashFood blog. “Yet one third of the available food in the U.S. is wasted. Our team believes that we can do better.”
The team’s creation has already drawn the attention of Microsoft. The Flashfood team won the 2012 U.S. Imagine Cup finals in April at the Microsoft company headquarters in Redmond, Wash. They are re-entering it this year and aim to win $8,000 to help fund the team’s entrepreneurial venture.