Every three weeks, the US throws away the same amount of unused produce that is donated to food banks in 12 months. That's 11 months and 1 week of food that could go to charities, but ends up in landfill instead. Aiming to change this, Food Cowboy is a system that helps those in the food supply chain to find local nonprofits that can use the food they're throwing away.
Developed as both a web and mobile app, the system can be used by anyone involved in the production, delivery and retail of food, whether it's farmers, truckers, supermarkets, restaurants, or even consumers. The service essentially acts as a bulletin board for advertising produce that's about to be thrown away. For example, if a pallet of tomatoes gets slightly damaged during delivery, warehouse managers or drivers can post a message on Food Cowboy describing the quality of the goods, why they're no longer using them, their current location and the route they'll be taking them if they're not picked up at the depot. Nearby food banks can then notify the poster that they're happy to take them and drivers can confirm that they're happy to drop them off on the way to their original destination.
Food Cowboy automatically sends an electronic receipt of the donation upon delivery, enabling companies to take advantage of tax relief for their kindness, and potentially even a positive review on social media.
Much like Australia's RipeNearMe, which lets anyone find excess food from local producers at exactly the right time, Food Cowboy could help avoid food that's good to eat from being thrown away for cosmetic or logistical reasons. How else can food waste be tackled?