This App Fights Hunger in Philly in a Surprisingly Simple Way

It's like Uber, but for food donations. Officials say the app was such a success during the DNC that they're making it permanent.

Mayor Jim Kenney and other city officials announced today a new app that makes it easier for restaurants and caterers to donate leftover food to local shelters and food pantries will be made permanent.

The Food Connect app, which was originally called Operation Food Rescue, was supposed to only run through the Democratic National Convention. It was such a success, however, that a coalition of anti-hunger organizations and the city have decided to keep it functioning year-round.

In eight days leading up to and including the DNC, the app collected 11,239 pounds of food. It has already been downloaded 300 times.

The app, which was invented by Graduate Hospital resident and Villanova alum Megha Kulshreshta, is incredibly simple. Volunteers sign up to drive. Instead of throwing out food, restaurants and caterers open the app and schedule a time for a driver to pick up the leftovers. A driver then transports it to a local anti-hunger organization. It may be cliché to compare things to Uber at this point, but yeah, it’s kind of like Uber for food donations. Safe handling standards are in place throughout the entire ride and all donations are tax-deductible.

Kulshreshta said that she was inspired to help out around 2014.

“I would take the subway home from work, and I would see a lot of restaurants throwing away their extra food, and I would see homeless people right on the street corner,” said Kulshreshta. After doing deliveries independently on evenings and weekends, she decided to take it a step further and, along with her brother, created the app to simplify the process.

“There is a clear demand for this food,” Kulshreshta told the audience at the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, where the announcement was made.

According to city officials, one in four Philadelphians are food insecure, which is almost twice the national average.

“This is very simple. We should not waste food, we should not throw food away, and we should share with each other,” said Kenney, who added that this is an “important, important application.”

The Food Connect app is available for both iPhone and Android.