Got Extra Food? Here Are Four Ways You Can Share It
Technology can help connect people who have stuff with people who need it.
You make a batch of food, one that will feed you for a handful of meals. It’s good, but you’ve got more than you can eat on your own before it goes bad. Or maybe you’re just tired of eating the same leftovers. You hate to waste it, especially when there are folks who are going hungry, even in your own community. But what choice do you have?
Assuming the food won’t freeze and thaw well, giving it to a friend or neighbor might be your best bet. But it’s hard to know who needs what, and while your friend might love your cooking, they may not need it. It may do more good if you can get it into the hands of someone who does need it.
The big question, if you want to do some good in the situation, is this one: how can you find people who need what you have to offer?
There are several apps and websites that can help. I’m going to start off with a numbered list, and then I’m going to describe each option under its own heading. I’m not affiliated with any of these entities directly, and I won’t make money if people sign up. It’s important information that I think everyone should have access to.
- Freecycle + trash nothing
Resource #1: Nextdoor
Nextdoor (link) is a way to connect to your neighbors. The site describes itself as “the private social network for your neighborhood.” If you join, you can make posts that will be sent to everyone else in your neighborhood who has joined. That’s assuming, of course, that they have notifications and/or emails enabled for it.
It isn’t “for” sharing food, but it’s not not for that, either. Aside from #4, none of these resources has food waste as its primary concern, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be effectively utilized to help combat it.
Resource #2: Freecycle + trash nothing
Freecycle (link) has been around for quite a while. It’s a portmanteau, a combination of the words “free” and “recycle.” The way it works is that there are many independent, localized groups, and people list things they have and things they want. Swaps occur, but it doesn’t have to be one-to-one. Individuals contact other individuals and work out the terms themselves. It’s like the “free stuff” section of Craigslist.
trash nothing (link) is essentially an app for Freecycle. Some folks reviewing it have said that it makes using Freecycle easier, so while it’s not totally necessary, it’s worth looking into.
Resource #3: Facebook
Facebook groups, to be more precise. I’m not linking to it; Facebook doesn’t need it.
Personally, I find Facebook’s interface these days to be somewhat cumbersome. It can be a very resource-hungry website and app, and I’ve just never liked the chat heads functionality. But anyone, anywhere can create a Facebook group, and many cities and regions have their own dedicated buy/sell/trade groups.
To find such a group, or another type of group that serves your area, search on Facebook for your location. Near the top of the screen, under the search bar, you’ll see a horizontal list of options, starting with, “All, Posts, People…” Groups will be among the options. If you click on it, you should be presented with groups relevant to your search query.
Resource #4: OLIO
OLIO (link) is an app made for reducing waste by connecting people with stuff to people who need stuff. It has been used in 32+ countries and can be used, theoretically, anywhere in the word.
The disadvantage of OLIO, compared with the other three items in this list, is that its user base is much smaller. But that doesn’t mean it should be brushed off and dismissed. If you think it would be a good thing for your community to have — and it does seem that way — why not post about it in one of the aforementioned Nextdoor or Facebook groups?
Remember, guys, gals, and nonbinary pals: safety first. When meeting someone you don’t know, always pick a public, well-lit location, one with witnesses. These are things to keep in mind on a date or in a hook-up situation, but they apply here as well. While most people are probably basically okay, it’s always a good idea to be cautious.
This is not an exhaustive list, and new things are being developed all the time. Know of one that should be getting some buzz, or are you working on a project related to food waste and hunger? Drop it in the comments below!