Do you ever feel a little guilty about those leftovers you know you're not going to eat? The new app LeftoverSwap lets you give them to someone in your community -- or pick up someone else's leftovers if you are hungry. The app, which is free, was created by freelance financial writer Dan Newman and software developer Bryan Summersett.
Jennifer Russell: You’ve come up with this LeftoverSwap app. What is it and how does it work?
Dan Newman: LeftoverSwap is like Craigslist for your leftovers. If you have extra food, you can put it on our application and someone can come pick it up.
JR: How did you come up with this idea? There has to be a story.
DN: It was actually born 3 years ago. I was visiting my old college roommate in Seattle. Seattle is such a great food city, and that’s the problem we had at one point. We ordered way too much pizza. My friend’s fridge was completely full, so we had no place to put it. It was just going to go to waste. We thought how great it would be to broadcast that we had this extra pizza available.
JR: You touch on some important issues around this app.
DN: Definitely. There is food waste, there is hunger, there is obesity, there is community. We waste 40 percent of the food that is created in the U.S., 15 percent of Americans don’t have enough food for an adequate lifestyle and 70 percent of us are obese. I think the stat that is most troubling to me is 25 percent of us don’t know our neighbors’ names -- not one neighbor, which is incredible to me.
JR: I am sure that you have had a variety of responses. I would imagine that there are a lot of people who are grossed out by the concept.
DN: Of course.
JR: What have the reactions been like? What have you heard?
DN: It has been very divisive. There are people who absolutely are ecstatic about it, and those will definitely be our cheerleaders in the community who will help grow the network that we need to make this successful.
There are also people who it’s not going to be for. They are going to stay as far away from it as possible.
However, I think there are a lot of people in the middle ground who, at first when they think of leftovers, they automatically associate them with something left in the fridge for 2 weeks. They think that’s what they are going to be giving other people or taking from other people.
But when those people start to think about it for more than that immediate reaction, I think they get a sense of what else could actually be shared through this. For example, if you have extra tomatoes from your home garden or if you’ve gone on a big shopping trip to Costco and can’t possibly use all 30 pounds of potatoes that you’ve bought, there really is no limit to where it can be taken.
JR: How does it work? Are there any rules?
DN: When you have extra food that you’d like to give away or perhaps trade, you take a picture of it -- that will drop a pin on a map. You wait for someone to contact you through the application. On the other side, if you are looking for some extra food, you go to this map and you can look through all of the different pins that are placed and contact the person.
JR: How far-reaching will this app be?
DN: The first version will be for iPhones -- that’s anywhere the English app store is available, which is obviously a large portion of the world. It’s actually incredible the response that we’ve gotten from outside of the U.S as well. It’s been very much discussed in Britain, Europe, Canada and South Africa. I guess it has legs globally.