More than 35 million people in the United States experienced food insecurity in 2019, according to a report from the USDA. During the pandemic, that figure is estimated to have climbed to 50 million. It’s a huge problem.
Meanwhile, approximately 30 to 40 percent of the food supply generated in the U.S. is wasted. Although food waste is a global issue, the U.S. discards 40 million tons—more than any other country in the world. And approximately 43 percent of that happens in the home; 40 percent comes from restaurants, grocery stores and food service companies; 16 percent comes from farms; and the remaining 1 percent from manufacturers. Globally, each year, a shocking one-third of food produced in the world goes to waste, and that waste is responsible for eight percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
In a country where so many don’t know where their next meal is coming from, it seems obvious that we need to connect the dots and not waste food. With local markets and restaurants still struggling from the pandemic, and so many people still suffering from food insecurity, I was thrilled to discover Too Good to Go, an app created to connect surplus food with consumers.
Here’s how it works: Once you download the app, you can connect with restaurants, bakeries, markets and caterers in your area who offer leftover groceries, baked goods or meals at crazy low prices, which would otherwise have ended up in the dumpster. Select one, pay $3.99 (or more, it depends), and you can head over to pick up a generous bag of perfectly good food that would otherwise have gone to waste for a variety of reasons. For example, the other day, I selected a greengrocer in my neighborhood, paid $3.99 through the app, and picked up a large baguette, a bag of organic mesclun salad, cherry tomatoes, four peaches, two apricots, a bag of grapes, two oranges, two zucchini, two cucumbers, two bananas, a lemon and a pear.
Originally launched in Denmark, Too Good to Go has helped consumers save more than 68 million restaurant meals across 15 countries so far. The B-Corp Certified company arrived in the U.S. in late 2020, and U.S. users have saved more than 300,000 meals in just under a year. Now available in Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, DC area, New York, parts of New Jersey, the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, Portland, Philadelphia, Providence and Seattle, Too Good to Go hopes to eventually cover the entire U.S. The company is planning to launch in Canada, continue expansion in Europe and eventually set up in Asia, South America and Africa, helping mitigate climate change and prevent food waste, one meal, and one grocery bag, at a time. toogoodtogo.com