In the last year, local restaurant and grocery store owners within Boston have taken greater steps to end two major issues in their industry: food waste and food insecurity. Up until now (with no other options), workers at these establishments have thrown away unpurchased food at the end of the day, even if it was still edible.

To many this seemed counterproductive, considering that one in eleven people in Massachusetts is food insecure. In an attempt to combat this issue, nonprofits and discount food apps began to take shape and gain popularity.

According to the Department of Environmental Protection, discarded food accounts for approximately a quarter of waste in landfills, making it the single largest source of garbage in the state.

Kathryn Stouffer

The department originally implemented regulations in 2010 with the goal of reducing waste disposal by 30% in 2020, but had limited success.

At this point, Boston locals saw an opportunity to fix another issue plaguing the state: food insecurity. A well known nonprofit called Lovin’ Spoonfuls has bridged the gap between restaurants and grocery stores and those in need.

Their mission is to take food from these locations that is no longer usable by the establishments, and donate them to organizations such as food banks and homeless shelters.

Their services are not only helping to divert food from landfills, but also to repurpose food that was previously thought to have reached the end of its functionality.

Lovin' Spoonfuls

Mike, a “food rescuer” for Lovin’ Spoonfuls, has seen firsthand benefits his work is doing for those in his community.

“It is rewarding being able to stop healthy, nutritious food like this from going to waste,” he said. “We once picked up an entire pallet of perfectly fresh berries from Costco. The high quality of the berries was most likely due to an over-ordered product or product sent to the wrong store.”

And Mike's story isn't unique. The organization's rescues show again and again how wasteful big stores and restaurants can be—and how quickly the problem can get out of control.

To date, Lovin’ Spoonfuls has rescued over 15 million pounds of food and given it to people in need.

Food for All

For-profit companies are also taking advantage of this opportunity to reduce waste, as well as benefit the public.

Food For All is an app created to sell freshly prepped, but unsold, meals at discount prices in order to prevent them from going to landfills.

The food is not donated, but the company is making it more accessible to lower income households who might otherwise struggle to find a nutritious and affordable meal. At the end of the day, customers can search for discounted meals with the app, purchase them online, and then pick up in store.

The app is designed to be simple and efficient, therefore making it a win-win situation for everyone involved. The idea was created and launched right here in Boston, and has since spread across the east coast.  

These are just some of the wonderful organizations that are taking action to improve the city and those who live in it. If you’re interested in their missions or want to get involved in the community, definitely check them out!