CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – The USDA estimates that 40-percent of the food that is produced in this country is thrown away. It’s not only an issue for the millions who face hunger, scientists say it’s a major contributor to global warming.
Now a local startup is hoping to make a small dent in this big issue, by encouraging restaurants to sell some of their meals at half price through an app called Food for All. It offers meal discounts from local restaurants that have more food than they can sell.
Sam Newland of Somerville is a big fan. He has a full-time job and a couple of side gigs, so he eats out a lot and he says Food for All has saved him hundreds of dollars on his food bill.
“I haven’t bought groceries since April,” he told WBZ-TV.
There are 200 restaurants on the site, about 130 of them are in the Boston area with the rest in New York. Each offers a certain number of half-price meals depending on the day’s sales. A slow day at the restaurant could mean more offers on the app. If a restaurant is busy, they may only offer a few.
According to Sam, you are treated the same as any other customer.
“You are getting the same quality food as anybody else,” he said.
Some of the Boston area restaurants include Boloco and the Chicken and Rice Guys.
For the Chicken and Rice Guys, figuring out what they will need to prepare on any given day can be a bit of a guessing game.
“We don’t cook to order, so we have quite a bit of waste,” explained restaurant co-founder Ian So.
According to So, Food for All has helped his small chain cut down on what goes in the dumpster by about 40-percent.
“It’s a win-win situation for restaurants,” explained Food for All co-founder Sabine Valenga. The idea is that restaurants can increase revenue while cutting down on waste.
Valenga and a friend came up with the idea while trying to make ends meet in college, but they quickly discovered controlling waste was not just about the bottom line.
“One of the most effective things you can do to reverse climate change is reduce food waste,” she told WBZ.
According to the United Nations, food waste is responsible for eight-percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Scientists say it’s those gases that keep heat from escaping the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.
Some of the gases are produced during farming and production, but it also comes from landfills. When food ends up in landfills, it breaks down and creates methane gas, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Newland appreciates the environmental benefit, but it’s not his primary motivator.
“I have saved almost $1,000 and probably saved 126 hours,” he said.
The meals are offered at certain pickup times, usually near the end of the lunch or dinner hour.