6 Apps for Reducing Food Waste

School’s out for summer, but that doesn’t mean the food waste reduction has to stop! Surplus food apps have blown up recently, and we want to share some of the best ones on the market with you. Technology for reducing food waste seems very promising at the moment, from innovations like commercial waste-tracking systems such as Winnow to fridge accessories that tell you when your food is going bad. But, the following (free) smartphone apps really put the power of reducing food waste in your hands and can save you a bunch of money too. The specific idea for each app varies within the larger genre, from alerting you of reduced pricing of local supermarket food that’s nearing its sell-by date, to cheaper restaurant meals near you, to food sharing and swapping opportunities with your neighbors.

Eco-friendly and budget-friendly

Food For All - “Great food should be tasted, not wasted.”


Food For All is an app that shows you restaurant and cafe food in your area that is at least 50% below the usual price. It’s half the price because the meals on the app are surplus food that these businesses are unlikely to sell before closing, which would usually result in them throwing out those wasted meals. This is a great solution for the business, the consumer, and the environment, since the seller can still get revenue, you save money on tasty food, and less perfectly good food goes in the garbage. You can simply choose your meal, pay through the app and then pick it up in the given time-window, which is usually within an hour before the food business closes. Their mission is to increase access to quality, convenient food and reduce the negative impacts of food waste on our planet. They are currently making this mission are reality in Boston and New York City.

OLIO - “The food sharing revolution.”

OLIO, a FRNd of Food Recovery Network, is a “hyperlocal” food-sharing app that connects neighbors so they can swap and share their unwanted or excess food, therefore reducing waste and strengthening community. You simply scroll through the photo listings of FREE (yes, everything is free) food in you area and then arrange your pickup via direct message. OLIO also has an initiative for businesses called “Food Waste Heroes Programme”, through which volunteers collect surplus food from restaurants, for example, and post them on the app to add to the local pool of products available. The app is being used by over a million people in 49 different countries so far, including the United States.

YourLocal - “Save Money. Save Food. Save our Planet.”

YourLocal partners with neighborhood stores and restaurants so that you can get their surplus food for up to 70% off. Again, you choose your items, pay via the app, and then pick up during the time-window they specify. The app focuses on supporting the local economy as well as helping the environment, and you can even earn Impact Coins that add up to free meals by referring friends to YourLocal. The app has taken off in Denmark, where it originated, but they are also operating in New York City and are working on expanding further. 

Flashfood - “The conscious way of grocery shopping”

Flashfood is a supermarket food app that displays products nearing their sell-by date/with low shelf life, saving you up to 50% off groceries and sparing you the time it takes to search for bargains yourself. You can pay on the app and then collect your items from the Flashfood stand in the supermarket. Flashfood’s stands are primarily in Canada, but lucky customers around Madison, Wisconsin can utilise the service too.

GoMkt - “Eat your conscience :)”

GoMkt is another app that connects consumers with area restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops with the aim of promoting local businesses, providing more affordable food, and protecting the environment. By shopping through GoMkt, you can get push notifications when there’s surplus food near you, purchase it in-app and save up to 75% off the original price. It recently launched in New York City, and we look forward to seeing it in other locations in the future.

Gebni - “Smart Food Delivery”


Gebni is a price-conscious, waste-conscious food delivery app that uses “smart pricing” to get you cheaper takeouts during times of lower demand for that meal. Using their algorithm, they can boost off-peak business and reduce the amount of food thrown out by restaurants all while saving you money. You can use their in-app chat feature if you have any questions, order days in advance to make sure you get that meal deal you have your eye on, purchase within the app, and have the food delivered or ready for pickup. They’re currently partnered with lots of restaurants, including big names like Bareburger and Al Horno, in New York City.

Download and Dig In


We’ve covered the six most popular apps in the US, but there’s so much food waste reduction going on internationally as well. This genre of app is particularly popular in Europe (other examples include Too Good to Go, Karma, and Savery) so, if you happen to travel abroad this summer, be sure to check out what local food you can rescue there too. We, at FRN, are so excited about anti-waste technology; we look forward to a day when food recovery is the norm and our meals are all as affordable, convenient, community-driven, and sustainable as these creative apps are trying to make it. Now you know these apps are out there, try browsing in your area next time you’re hungry - remember, although the availability of these new tools is great, the food will still be wasted unless people actually go and get it!

Utah State Blue Goes Green

“Gleaning is simply the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, or any other sources in order to provide it to those in need.” -USDA Gleaning Toolkit

In the Logan, Utah area, there are a variety of apple, pear, plum, and apricot trees that go unpicked each season. The fruit falls as it becomes too ripe creating heaps of wasted fruit. Instead of allowing this fruit to literally rot on the vine, a group of students and I wanted to start a gleaning team that would pick the excess fruit.

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As the Director of Food Recovery Network at Utah State University (USU), I researched gleaning projects across the country to understand how to begin one of my own. I was determined to implement a gleaning initiative at Utah State, and was hopeful in gaining funds to support this project. I reached out to the Food Recovery Network National Office to inquire about the FRN Gleaning Guide. I also looked into the USU Blue Goes Green (BGG) Grant program to acquire funding. 

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The BGG program allows students at Utah State University to apply for grant money to fund  sustainability projects that benefit students and reduce carbon emissions at our university. The BGG grant is required to address one of the Student Sustainability Grant focus areas: Waste Reduction, Sustainable Food Systems & Food Justice, Conservation & Renewable Energy, Air Quality, Reduced Carbon Footprint, Water Conservation, Green Building. Social & Economic Dimensions of Sustainability. This gleaning project fit perfectly into the Sustainable Food Systems category. It would provide opportunities for USU students to participate in the sustainability efforts on campus and it would educate students and faculty about food systems and food justice.

I applied for a BGG grant to purchase materials so we could begin gleaning this summer and continue into the fall. I had participated in gleanings before, so I knew what materials we would need, including: fruit pickers to retrieve fruit which grows near the top of trees, stackable crates to transport the fruit, and marketing materials to promote this project to tree owners and student volunteers.

First and foremost, my advisor, Brhianna, and I calculated the amount of materials we would need to accomplish the gleaning in the Cache Valley, near USU’s campus. We began with our budget spreadsheet, creating an outline of funds we would need. We determined the need for 4 apple pickers, 12 stackable crates, and marketing materials. After creating the budget spreadsheet, Brhianna and I began writing the proposal, which outlined the projects needs, description, outcomes, and who would participate and support this project. A few weeks after submitting the proposal and budget, we heard back from the BGG grant committee and were informed the Gleaning Grant was accepted and could be fully funded. Our vision is for the gleaning project to begin on August 24, 2019, and continue until the end of October, when fruit picking season ends. We plan to distribute ⅓ of the fruit to the tree owner, ⅓ to local food pantries, and ⅓ to the volunteers. To determine the impacts of the gleaning efforts, we plan on weighing the amount of fruit we pick each week and tracking the number of volunteers who attend each event. 

By providing an opportunity for students to pick fruit and engage with community members, they will gain a greater knowledge of the food waste problem and how university programs are combating this issue. It will be of great service to the community and an opportunity for students to gain fruit-picking experience. I look forward to beginning this gleaning project this fall and reducing food waste and feeding people!

Regional Summits: Bringing the Network Together

Programs Manager, Hc, Research & Outreach VISTA, Heather Banikas, by the “open trench.”

Programs Manager, Hc, Research & Outreach VISTA, Heather Banikas, by the “open trench.”

We (hc + Heather) are standing on the side of a wide road, not entirely sure where to go next. We flew across the country, from College Park, Maryland to Los Angeles, California. We drove 90 minutes east of the city to Claremont and parked the car beside an “open trench”. The instructions from Nicole, the Los Angeles County Regional Outreach Coordinator (ROC), tell us to find a gate which will set us on a path to the Robert Redford Conservancy for Southern California Sustainability. We see the gate on the other side of the street; we wait for a gap in the cars before scampering across the five lanes of traffic. Standing at the gate, we look at each other and push it open. It’s the last Saturday of April, and we’re headed towards the fifth and final 2019 Regional Summit. We know what to expect because we’ve seen the agenda, but we aren’t sure what exactly will happen once the attendees arrive, the ideas start flowing, and the action items get laid out. 

Let’s start a few months back. 

Minnesota Regional Summit attendees.

Minnesota Regional Summit attendees.

For those who are unfamiliar, let us take a few moments to talk about what it means to be a ROC. Regional Outreach Coordinators are student and alumni leaders who organize Regional Summits. Over a semester, the ROCs plan and host events for community involvement and student-to-student networking. Our journey began in early December 2018 with interviews for the 2019 ROC Cohort. Before that, the behind-the-scenes efforts included application creation and outreach. The hype grew and we, with the help of Google Hangouts, interviewed several prospective ROCs. The result was a cohort of nine energized FRNds who were to plan and execute five regional summits. Lizzie Massey and Elena Kapp covered the DC Metro Area. Will Bergstrom and Grace Liao collaborated between their two separate chapters in Minneapolis. Amanda Martinez held down Denver with the support of Dominique McMillan, FRN’s Program & Outreach Fellow. Roni Gabaldon, Tatum Flowers, and Skyler Adams joined forces in St. Petersburg. In Los Angeles, Nicole Pozzo planned logistics, while I (Heather) conducted long-distance outreach. Across the country, plans to bring members of the Network together for inspiring, engaging, and empowering summits quickly came to life.

Back to April 2019 in California.

It’s the end of a long day. Our brains are full, and we’re standing in a circle under the shade of a large tree. As a final activity of the Summit, I (hc) ask everyone to share something they’ll do in the days or weeks to come.

Minnesota Regional Outreach Coordinators, Will and Grace, with hc and Regina Anderson, Executive Director of FRN.

Minnesota Regional Outreach Coordinators, Will and Grace, with hc and Regina Anderson, Executive Director of FRN.

“Always be recruiting”

“Connect, pool resources”

“Become an official chapter”

“Celebrate with gratitude”

These were themes from all of the summits. At the DMV Summit, some students from a Chapter In Progress whose dining service provider won’t budge problem-solved tactics for approaching the dining staff with other students who have tackled the same issue. The attendees at the Social Sustainability Summit in Denver penned thank you notes for the staff at the University of Denver’s two partner agencies. In Minneapolis, we brainstormed volunteer recruitment tactics. One of which was to plan a large scale recovery soon after a tabling event, so that folks who expressed interest are able to see, firsthand, the scale of food waste and how easy it is to do something about that problem. The attendees of the Florida Summit formed small groups and illustrated mock magazine covers to think expansively around an ideal future of food recovery; it’s an exercise in visioning. 

DMV Regional Outreach Coordinators, Elena and Lizzie, with hc and Regina.

DMV Regional Outreach Coordinators, Elena and Lizzie, with hc and Regina.

Despite the geographical differences, individuals within those five communities all care about the same thing. We are connected in our dedication to sustaining and expanding the movement to more colleges, universities, and beyond. This is a movement of thousands of people from across the country fighting to reduce food waste and redistribute surplus food to their food-insecure neighbors. 

Now that the Regional Summits have ended and the ROCs have reflected on their experience, we look forward to what the future holds. We will be hosting regional events in California and Florida with applications opening in October. If you are not located in those locations, but have been inspired to host a regional event wherever you are located, we still encourage you to connect with us and fill out an application. Our strength lies in the people of this movement. One conversation has the possibility of striking an idea, developing a relationship, and encouraging change. Let's continue pushing against the status quo and creating spaces to do so.

How FRN Helped Me Discover the Value of Direct Action

This past semester, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with some incredibly driven and talented people at Food Recovery Network’s headquarters in College Park, MD. This experience was made possible by American University’s community service learning program. Through this program, I was able to receive academic credit in exchange for committing time to help a local organization that works with communities across the country. The goal of this program was to anchor what I was learning at an academic level in school to the issues people face in our communities. I focused my search on food insecurity and food waste prevention organizations. In a happy coincidence, a friend of my professor recommended Food Recovery Network (FRN). Once I reviewed their mission statement and saw the great work they were doing, I knew working for them would fit perfectly with my goals. So, I sent an email asking to have the opportunity to work with them and was quickly put in touch with Hannah Cather the Program Manager, or hc as she is known. 


Together, she and I began to map out how I could help her team in their mission to promote food recovery and fight food waste. Very quickly, I learned that my expectations of what working in a non-profit office would be like weren’t accurate. Instead of negotiating with large food firms and lobbying for food reform, FRN focuses on ensuring that each individual chapter or chapter in progress (CHIP) is flourishing in their unique communities. My first job was to look over a slideshow presentation they had developed to explain FRN’s mission and their successes. Seeing the staggering amounts of food that had been collected, 3.8 million pounds in total, and the amount of meals that had been secured, 3.1 million, was quite impressive. It felt empowering to know that the work I was about to do would help ensure that food would go to hungry folks and not be left to rot in landfills. 

After this assignment, I began to develop infographics for chapters who were struggling to convince their school’s dining provider to work with them. By partnering with these groups, CHIPs and chapters access the largest amount of food on campus and are able to increase their impact on campus food waste. Additionally, I worked on creating infographics which sought to convince students with particular interests, like environmentalism and social justice, to look into FRN and join a local chapter or possibly to start one themselves. 


The work wasn’t always fun, especially on days where much of my time was eaten up fixing formatting errors; my commute was an hour and a half there and back and was tiring. At times, I felt unsure if the work I was doing really helped forward the cause. But, whenever I felt off or frustrated about what I was doing, the same thought would return to me. I would pause to reflect on how the work I was doing went directly towards helping people. I would remember how it felt to be working with a group of kind and dedicated people on an issue that they all cared about deeply. The energy I saw from the Program Team as they supported others was motivating and therapeutic. I looked forward to going to work and experiencing that energy.

So far, my education at American University’s International Studies program has involved absorbing as much information as possible about the nature of the world’s issues and their scope. Studying genocides, the effects of climate change, and reading testimonies from victims of war, has, at times, caused me to feel a pit of existential despair grow within me. These past semesters, I have talked with some of my professors about how they manage to cope with this feeling, and none have ever given me an answer that felt complete. By far the most rewarding thing about working with  Food Recovery Network is the lesson that the solution to these feelings is to narrow in on one issue and do what you can to end it. When I read about the projections for the climate if drastic measures aren’t taken to remedy the damage we’ve done, I ease my dread by saying to myself, “While this issue is daunting and you don’t have the power to fix it, you are trying to help reduce our food waste, which fights emissions, and bring food to the hungry.”

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Having an anchor to ground one’s self is a truly invaluable tool, especially today where all the world's calamities are a few clicks or swipes away. An anchor isn’t just liking pages on social media. It requires tangible effort and targets a specific issue. Volunteering to feed the homeless, actively opposing bigoted policies through protest or organizing, and speaking up when the rights of your coworkers, friends, or even strangers are threatened, are all forms of direct action that push society towards a better future. The students in all the CHIPs and chapters of FRN know this, and through working at their organization, I have gained this knowledge too. And with it, I know that the despair that once weighed me down can not withstand the healing energy of direct and purposeful action. So thank you FRN, and keep up the good fight!

Kentucky Hunger Free Day

Food insecurity is a significant problem people face in the state of Kentucky. One in six Kentuckians identify as food insecure and one in five Kentucky children struggle with hunger. A food insecure household does not always have food on hand or enough money to go out and purchase food. People who are food insecure often do not know where their next meal will come from. These startling statistics led the Kentucky Association of Food Banks (now Feeding Kentucky) to organize an annual event known as Kentucky Hunger Free Day several years ago. A group from Bellarmine University consisting of Food Recovery Network members, leaders of the on-campus food pantry planning committee, and other concerned students and faculty attended this year’s Kentucky Hunger Free Day. The February 20th gathering marked the sixth year of this event and the first time that a group of Bellarmine University students, faculty, and staff attended the event. I attended as the president of Bellarmine’s Food Recovery Network (FRN) chapter and as a representative from the food pantry planning committee.


We traveled to the state capitol building in Frankfort, Kentucky from Louisville for the event. The day was jam-packed with a variety of different ways people could get involved fighting the issue of food insecurity in Kentucky. Over the course of the day, our group attended meetings with Kentucky State Representatives, like Julie Raque Adams, and listened to addresses from government officials, like Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. We also listened to speeches from leaders of organizations working to end hunger in the Bluegrass state. We attended a state Senate session in order to get a better understanding of the workings of our state government. 

It was very enlightening to network with new people and organizations and to explore the political side of food security issues. Our Food Recovery Network chapter deals mostly with local issues like food waste on campus and food insecurity in our immediate community, so it was also very helpful to see what is happening in the rest of our state. Kentucky is growing its number of FRN chapters, with the recent additions of the University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University, but we still have room to grow.


This experience provided our FRN chapter with an incredible opportunity to network with other organizations that share our cause. It also provided us the chance to meet some of the people affected by food insecurity in Kentucky. We met with people from Dare to Care, who donate food to our on-campus food pantry. They talked about how excited they were for a college group to be there, which made our attendance all the more meaningful. One of the major policy issues we helped advocate for was removing the sales tax requirements being forced on Kentucky nonprofits, which pull money away from providing more food and resources to the people they serve.

One of the most special moments for me was when we heard Pastor Rob Beckett talk about how food insecurity affects the majority of his congregation. His church does all it can, but sometimes they need help from other groups. He explained that Kentucky Hunger Free Day offers a chance for him to network with other groups and share his story. He talked about the importance of the Farms to Food Banks program that Kentucky has, which incentivizes local farmers to donate fresh produce to food banks, thus benefiting all involved. Pastor Beckett said people’s faces light up when they get fresh food, and I thought this was so relevant to hear. I think it’s so important to provide people not just with food, but with fresh and healthy foods, and I was so happy to hear about this program. 


Overall, this trip was an eye-opening experience that allowed our FRN chapter to branch out and learn more about the extent of the food security issue in our state and different political and economic avenues we could take to solve it. We definitely recommend taking advantage of an opportunity like this if you have one available in your state. If not, we encourage you to start a gathering of food security organizations in your state so you can share information, resources, and support, creating a stronger base for solving this issue. Kentucky Hunger Free Day is an example of a big step in the right direction towards fighting food insecurity.