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‘Hunger isn’t a scarcity issue’

This startup diverts excess food from executive dining rooms to hungry people

By Rachel Koning Beals

‘Our minds have been trained to just settle on the idea that this is America, and issues like hunger solve themselves simply with abundance,’ says Goodr CEO Jasmine Crowe.

The Value Gap is a MarketWatch Q&A series with business leaders, academics, authors, policymakers and activists on reducing racial and social inequalities.

Each year, billions of pounds of food — from barely bruised fruit to uneaten gourmet lunches intended for executive dining rooms — go to waste in the U.S.

As that refuse rots in landfills, some 38 million people face hunger in this country each year, according to Feeding America, a nonprofit network of food banks and food pantries across the country. That problem only intensified when COVID-19 forced many people out of jobs and raised costs of medical care and child care for others, taking a big toll on grocery budgets.

So it has taken outside-the-lunchbox thinking of entrepreneurs like Atlanta-based Jasmine Crowe and her benefit corporation, or B Corp., Goodr, to provide the speedy technological link and new thinking to more efficiently tap sources of food waste: corporations, grocery retailers and facilities such as airports. Using Goodr or similar pickup platforms, these large entities can hand over perfectly edible extras into delivery vans in real time, and ultimately into the hands of hungry people.

Goodr operates under the notion that ‘hunger isn’t a scarcity issue. It’s a matter of logistics.’

Tracking such waste, a service that Goodr provides to clients, can in turn help companies that are over-buying or over-producing rethink what they order and prepare, saving them in food costs and waste-management fees. The service can boost corporations’ reputational standing with employees, who increasingly push for attention to shine on all stakeholders, not just shareholders. In some states, food distribution might be partly funded with grants or offset by tax breaks.

Several states have food-waste reduction programs searchable on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. In California beginning Jan. 1, food redistribution will be required by law and enforced with fines. The rule is part of the state’s climate-change initiatives and is paired with new composting requirements.

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