New App Creates ‘Virtual Food Bank' in San Diego County

Feeding San Diego launched the MealConnect app to connect restaurants with food donation centers

Feeding San Diego is using new technology to connect restaurants, hotels and caterers with food donation centers – to reduce food waste and feed more people in San Diego County. 

“Forty percent of our food in San Diego gets thrown away every day, most of it is perfectly edible and nutritious food. So, Feeding San Diego’s mission is to get the 40-percent of the food we throw away every day –and instead of sending it to the landfill, get it to families in need,” said Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego.

Here’s how the MealConnect technology works:

1. A restaurant, hotel, caterer, etc. downloads the free MealConnect app.

2. The donator takes a picture of the food he/she is donating, estimates the weight of the donation and chooses the day/time for the donation pick up.

3. Feeding San Diego gets the request and a local volunteer picks the food up to take to a nearby charity.

“We’re trying to keep Chula Vista food in Chula Vista and Oceanside food in Oceanside. So, we’re getting that food from the food donor directly to a local charity who can get it to families in need. That’s going to reduce costs, that’s going to mean healthier produce, proteins and other fresh foods that are still going to be edible-- and it’s going to reduce pollution, reducing the carbon footprint of the overall rescue system,” said Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego.

For Executive Chef, Angelo Sosa of Death by Tequila in Encinitas, it’s all about giving back, especially when there is always leftover food to give in the restaurant industry.

“Every little bit matters. I wouldn’t analyze whether you’re a small restaurant, a ‘mom and pop’ restaurant, a big scale – oh it’s not going to be enough, it is enough. We have to break the stigmatism of the thinking here and the awareness and the awakening – and what I love about the MealConnect platform, it is a proactive approach of giving,” said Angelo Sosa, Executive Chef of Death by Tequila.

In Sosa’s donation box on Wednesday, all fresh ingredients: thyme, heirloom carrots and butternut squash, amongst other types of produce.

A donation of produce made to Feeding San Diego.

“I’ve been in the business for over 20 years and having this access and platform – this tool is amazing for us sometimes we have excess food and instead of giving it to the staff, now there’s a powerful cause we can give to,” said Sosa.

Thirteen million pounds of food are saved by Feeding San Diego each year with most of that food coming from grocery stores, according to Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego. But, with 1 in 8 San Diegans still going hungry – the MealConnect app works to make that statistic smaller.

“This model uses technology to create a virtual food bank, a food bank in the cloud if you will, which is connecting food donors to charities and distributes the food in real time in a cost efficient, low polluting, highly nutritious manner,” said Hall.

Restaurants, caterers or other food-related businesses interested in being a part of the program simply have to download the MealConnect app onto a smartphone to get started.

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