New App Will Help Fight Hunger In San Diego County
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Photo by Andi Dukleth
Each night, as many as 12% of San Diego County residents go to bed hungry. Meanwhile, 40% of food in our county is thrown away every day, according to Feeding San Diego, a local nonprofit dedicated to solving hunger and ending food waste.
The organization launched a new app Tuesday called MealConnect that provides a platform for restaurants, hotels and caterers to offer up their excess food to one of 170 local organizations that feed the hungry.
"The next wave of hunger relief is going to be rescuing food from irregular food donors," said Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego. "From restaurants, from caterers, from hotels, from others who don't have enough food to give every single day, but they have a lot of food when you look at it on an annualized basis,"
Feeding San Diego already distributes 26 million meals a year around the county. Hall says 97% of those meals would otherwise go to waste.
Edris Taufiq is the owner of Cafe Socrates, a Mediterranean restaurant at the food court in the Fashion Valley Mall. He says his cafe has anywhere from a few plates of leftover food to a few pounds each day. Taufiq participated in the pilot program of the MealConnect app and is excited about the possibilities to give back to the community.
"I think it's unethical to waste food. I think it's un-American to waste food," Taufiq said. "So I think it's very important for people to just find it in their heart, especially business owners, you should be able to find a way to contribute to your community."
The MealConnect app allows restaurant owners like Taufiq to take a picture of the food they want to donate, note the amount of the donation and when they want it to be picked up. Then the app texts volunteers who will come pick up the food and bring it to one of Feeding San Diego's local partners.
"This is something a volunteer can do anytime," said Nancy Kane, a volunteer for Feeding San Diego and MealConnect. "They can set up the parameters anytime when they initially set up the app on their profile and then they can just accept or decline. So it's something they can do, it takes very little training, very little time and it can make a big difference."
For more information about how to volunteer to be a driver or how to donate leftover food from a restaurant visit: https://feedingsandiego.org/mealconnect
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