We believe there’s dignity in leftovers. Our Chewse to Connect series features stories from the field, highlighting the impact your food donations have on the local community. This week, we’re taking a look at how Chewse to Give works.

Do you ever find yourself thinking about what you can do to support the community around you? It can be daunting to figure out where and how to start. There are lots of great causes out there! 

Luckily, by eating with Chewse, you’re playing a part to support our neighbors-in-need. With our Chewse to Give program, we take any excess food you might have from your meal program and donate it to partner organizations in your area! It sounds simple (because it is), but there’s a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure donations are distributed to those who need it most. 

We’ve partnered with Copia, the experts in food recovery, to make food donations more efficient. Together, we’re donating your leftovers to make the biggest impact possible. Find out why and how we’re doing it, one meal at a time.

The world’s dumbest problem

First off, we want to clarify one thing: hunger is not due to a lack of food. In fact, even though there are over 7.5 billion people on the planet, industrial agriculture, or the mass production of food, makes it possible to feed 10 billion people

In the United States, between 30 – 40% of food is wasted. Experts agree that one of the largest contributing factors is the aesthetics of produce. Perfectly good produce gets thrown away at the first sign of a dark spot or off-color, even before it gets to market. And at home, a family of four loses on average $1500 every year on wasted food. In some parts of the world, lack of infrastructure makes it difficult to simply get food from farm to market, or cold storage in grocery stores needed to keep food preserved longer. 

In reality, hunger is a logistics problem. It’s the food-version of “the last mile” issue – getting consumers (humans) to products (perfectly good food). This is why Copia deems hunger “the world’s dumbest problem.” With their technology, Copia is setting out to connect people to food, bridging “the last mile” to reduce waste and feed communities across the country.

With Chewse to Give, we’re teaming up with Copia to pair your donations to the organizations in your community. Together, we’re building community beyond your office lunch table, making sure that your perfectly edible excess food finds a hungry stomach instead of a landfill.

How we do it

When we say our Chewse meal hosts are rockstars, we really mean it! They’re the ones coordinating your meal so it goes off without a hitch – and they can also help you donate your food. To do so, simply let them know if you’d like to donate your meal! You can also chat with your Account Manager to automatically donate your leftovers after every meal. Your meal host will be happy to pack up any excess food you’d like to donate instead of keeping it on-site. 

Once the food is packed up and ready to go, we use Copia’s app to document how much food we have available to donate. Their algorithm pairs the meal with a local non-profit who has specified details such as available drop-off times and the amount of food they need. Our donations typically go like this:

Your donations to date

Many of the non-profits we donate to are shelters, food pantries, and religious institutions. These recipient organizations provide services to under-housed folks like job training, mental health support, medical support, and other services. 

Taylor Nichols of Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles shares with us that, to people who are “fighting for survival one hour at a time,” simple tasks or long-term planning can be overwhelming. “The promise of good food,” Robert Abate of Community Housing Partnership in San Francisco says, “is one of the greatest predictors of positive engagement.” 

Social isolation can make achieving self-sufficiency more difficult, as it prevents that person from seeking medical and job-training help. As Nichols says of the community he supports:

“When people’s stomachs are full, their mind is clearer and we are better able to help them focus on getting to doctor’s appointments, getting to support groups, and they are better able to reach their goals.”

By simply participating in your team’s meal program, you’re helping the larger community around you enjoy a hot meal they might not otherwise receive. With your help, we’re on track to donate 75,000 pounds of food this year. Take a look at the impact in your city or find out more about Chewse to Give, here.