A simple lunch with a homeless vet forever changed the life of Komal Ahmad, who was then a student at University of California, Berkeley and is now a CEO. Ahmad was walking near campus a few years ago when a homeless man asked her for money. She bought him lunch instead. The meeting left a deep impact, so she soon devised, along with classmate Chloe Tsang, a way to get campus food waste onto the plates of local people who were going hungry. Her initiative sparked food waste “forwarding” programs on other campuses and inspired an app that has fed almost 600,000 people in the San Francisco Bay area alone.

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The app, called Feeding Forward, is so simple in concept it’s almost a crime no one thought of it before. When an event or business or other organization has leftover food, like all of those trays of rolls no one ate or the dishes full of pasta that were never served, a driver comes and picks up it up and delivers it to wherever it’s needed most.

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The potential for such an app is almost limitless. Food from parties, cafeterias, ready-made grocery store items could all be donated quickly without someone at the store or business having to take an extra step. Ahmad says hunger issues in this country are not caused by a lack of food. Rather, they are the result of an inequitable distribution of food. We have enough food but only those with enough money can get it.

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Since the story hit the CNET news website, news of the app has spread and Ahmad is getting thousands of requests to implement the program in other cities. “I didn’t expect it to blow up,” she told Daily News. “People as far as Nairobi, Bangalore and Hong Kong have wrote us [sic] asking us to expand Feeding Forward to their cities and countries.” The app is currently undergoing some work and will be back online in August.

+ Feeding Forward