Food waste and food insecurity are two startling global trends that are often discussed together. How could so much food be going to waste while so many people go hungry on a daily basis?
The U.S. wastes more food than any other country in the world. At the same time, more than 42 million Americans may be battling food insecurity. These issues are amplified on a college campus like UNC, where one out of every four undergraduates is food insecure.
According to Massachusetts-based program Recycling Works, the average college student is also responsible for 142 pounds of food waste annually.
The app Too Good To Go is attempting to close the gap between food waste and food insecurity. It allows users to purchase leftover food from restaurants and grocery stores that would have otherwise become food waste.
Too Good To Go launched in the U.S. in 2020, but has been serving users across Europe since 2015. Its popularity has grown in major cities, but it could be particularly useful in college towns like Chapel Hill.
Earlier this year, the Editorial Board investigated food insecurity among college students, specifically the food desert on UNC’s campus that leaves many underclassmen without reliable access to affordable, healthy food options.
Too Good To Go has the potential to change this by making formerly expensive dining locations on Franklin Street and throughout Chapel Hill more abundant and affordable.
Here’s how it works: users can purchase “Surprise Bags” on the app, ranging anywhere from $2.60 to $5.30. The bags contain pastries, soups, sandwiches or whatever else the user has selected that they prefer, although you are often unable to select specific menu items or dishes. Restaurants can also use the app to list and change what they anticipate having left over at the end of the working day.
But for under $6, Too Good To Go redefines what it means to battle food waste by creating affordable and accessible solutions. At the same time, it produces additional revenue for many grocers, restaurants and small businesses alike.
Too Good To Go has its home in 15 countries and 11 major cities — but it’s time for smaller college towns to have their piece of the pie. The app has the potential for national expansion by the end of the year, and it’s up to Chapel Hill businesses to participate.
If you're a restaurant or grocer in the area, consider registering your business on their website. For students who want more affordable food from your favorite restaurants, reach out via social media and express interest in the app. While it doesn’t do much yet, it could attract development and use in the area.
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