June 29, 2018

This app connects restaurants with a surplus of food to nonprofits that feed the hungry

Here are three stories of how homegrown innovation takes on long-standing trouble areas

Instead of letting it go to waste, Restaurants with a surplus of food can easily donate it through the Goodr app.

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions individuals and organizations are creating in their communities. Today, a young organization takes on the hunger issue with an app and cutting edge technology, a construction company seeks to rebuild communities by melding the past with the present, and new research is being developed to give arts and culture organizations a stronger seat at the development table. Tell us who’s innovating in your hometown. Email us at info@therenewalproject.com.

The Goodr way to fight hunger: America doesn’t have a hunger problem, it has a logistics problem. People aren’t going hungry because there’s a lack of food, about 133 billion pounds of edible food ends up in landfills each year. That costs about $218 billion per year in terms of production, transportation, and removal of uneaten food.

All that makes hunger a resource issue, according to Goodr, an Atlanta-based company that provides a streamlined service to funnel surplus food from restaurants to nonprofits that provide meals to the hungry.

Goodr uses a custom app that allows businesses to input what food they have available for pickup; the app is driven by blockchain technology to keep clear records on how much food is donated, where it goes, and the environmental impacts it’s reducing.

Companies put their entire menu online and at the end of the night can simply log into the app and click what surplus needs to be picked up by Goodr drivers. The food is delivered to a nonprofit within a 5- to 10-mile radius of the restaurant, ensuring the surplus is helping the local community.

“We, not only pick up this food from corporations, but our app also provides real time reporting analytics that tell companies exactly where their food is going,” says the Goodr website. “We are the only food management company that collaborates with organizations in compliance with the Internal Revenue Service through our blockchain enabled platform to increase corporation’s bottom line through their charitable donations.”

Goodr has now “diverted” more than 900,000 pounds of surplus food—or the equivalent of about 750,000 meals. Goodr says that for every dollar spent on its services the restaurant saves $14 in the form of lower trash bills and tax write-offs.

While the app is mostly aimed at food services, they plan to expand to farms as well. Meanwhile, they are focusing on spreading their services to other cities across the U.S. over the next 18 months, aiming to be in 20 cities by 2020.

Building community and a sense of belonging: When AGI Construction purchased a rundown property in southwest Detroit with the intent of building it into a community resource center, the first thing the company did was look at the surrounding area as a whole and target it for cleanup.

“We didn’t just clean up our property,” Tanya Saldivar-Ali, AGI co-founder, told Model D, the group also cleaned up other properties, a park, and surrounding areas. The intent, Saldivar-Ali said, was to show that “we’re here and we want to help contribute to the community.”

AGI’s project in Stanton Park, called Detroit Future Ops, will be a resource center that offers services and workforce capacity building for minority contractors. AGI is intent on modeling how other companies should approach communities with a sense of social responsibility, such as being aware of the importance of a community’s history. To that end, AGI planned an event in which long-time residents of Stanton Park were invited to tell their stories about the neighborhood. Such events give newcomers a sense of belonging and help create bonds with long-time residents.

As AGI has grown, it’s also acted as advocates for clients, such as when a local church had to be relocated because of an eminent domain issue (making way for a new highway). AGI helped the church navigate the process as well as handle the relocation.

“With each one of those projects, the work became a lot more meaningful and we realized that construction really was the first step to community development and sustainability,” Saldivar-Ali told Model D.

The arts as anchors: Hospitals and universities are traditionally thought of as community “anchors.” These are institutions with strong ties to the community because of their history, mission, significant capital investments, land holdings, or reliance on local markets, according to the Initiative of Competitive Inner Cities (ICIC). These “eds and meds,” as they are called, are usually the focus of anchor initiatives; however, ICIC, along with the Kresge Foundation’s Arts and Culture Program, are trying to shift that focus. They are working together to answer the question as to why arts and culture organizations are more aggressively taking a seat at anchor tables in their cities and “to catalyze more arts and culture organizations to adopt anchor strategies and increase equitable economic growth in their communities,” according to ICIC’s blog.

After all, arts and culture organizations represent about $764 billion of gross domestic product in the U.S. and support nearly five millions jobs, ICIC says, of which, 12 percent are in the inner city.

Research by the two organizations will seek to find the gaps in anchor strategies used by arts and culture organizations, to answer questions such as: Are their incentives different from other organizations? Do they face unique barriers?

The research is intended to “provide inspiration and guidance for arts and culture organizations, funders and the public sector on how these organizations can leverage their strong community ties and assets to drive deeper engagement in their communities,” ICIC says.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project is an initiative by Allstate that spotlights local innovation and celebrates community change-makers.
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