By recovering excess food, FlashFood reduces food insecurity and the environmental impact of food waste. Nearly 50 million Americans struggle to put food on their tables, while 40% of food in the US is wasted, with 129 billion pounds coming from restaurants, caterers, and grocery stores. Wasted food also accounts for 25% of US methane emissions, a gas which is 20 times more effective at retaining heat than carbon dioxide and is believed to be a significant contributor to global climate change. If we recovered 15% of the food we throw away, we could feed 25 million Americans for a year.
At FlashFood, we are building a mobile app that offers an easy way for restaurants, caterers, grocers, or any type of food service business that has extra, un-served food at the end of operating hours to donate it rather than throw it away. The following describes the process by which FlashFood recovers perishable food from being wasted and provides meals for the hungry.
Food donation is listed
- The manager of a business uses the FlashFood smartphone application or website to enter the business’s location, type and amount of food, as well as any special instructions for on-call drivers who will pick up the food. As an example, we will use the Phoenix Convention Center.
Driver is notified of donation
- Once the manager of the business lists the available donation on our network, a notification is sent to a driver and a partner who are on call for the evening via the FlashFood mobile application. This notification will let the driver know how much food to expect and which types of food containers she will need (i.e., hot sleeves or coolers) to keep the food safe. The driver will also be routed to the restaurant using Bing maps through the FlashFood mobile application.
Mass text message is sent to subscribers
- Once the drivers confirm that they will pick up this donation, they will send out a mass text message to subscribers on the FlashFood network letting them know when they can pick up the donation at a neighborhood point of interest for the group of people receiving the donation, such as a neighborhood school, community center, or church.
Food is delivered
- About 30-45 minutes later, the drivers arrive at the chosen location and distribute the donated food to subscribers who have arrived to receive a meal.
 In order to comply with health safety laws, food from restaurants and caterers is only eligible to be donated if it has not left the kitchen.
 Drivers will always be accompanied by at least one other volunteer.
 Those who are subscribed to be notified of food donations DO NOT need to own a smartphone or download the FlashFood mobile application, they simply need a phone with SMS capabilities.