Food app helps supply 500k homeless meals

Innovative new app Foodcloud only partnered with Tesco last summer, but already the union has resulted in more than half a million meals for homeless people in Ireland.

The Foodcloud app connects businesses with charities — allowing retailers with surplus food to donate it to organisations feeding those most in need.

Businesses such as restaurants and supermarkets can use the app to upload details of food they are willing to donate — local charities receive a notification of the donation and can pick it up if they are willing to accept it.

Since its inception two years ago, Foodcloud has provided more than 646,000 meals — the equivalent of almost 300 tonnes of food.

The idea for the app first formed when co-founders Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O’Brien were studying at Trinity College Dublin.

The duo discovered about a million tonnes of food was going to waste each year and decided to do something about it.

Now, Foodcloud is partnered with 115 Irish businesses, including Tesco, and 350 charities. They also have 40 volunteers working in the Dublin area collecting and delivering donated food.

“It’s been going really well. There are always going to be challenges because it’s something that hasn’t been done before,” said co-founder Iseult Ward.

“There are 146 Tesco stores in Ireland and we’re in 100 of them. At the moment we’re just taking a bit of time to review the process and see how best to go forward.”

Geoff Byrne, chief operating officer of Tesco Ireland, said Foodcloud is leading the way in tackling food waste in the retail industry.

“At the end of each day, we do end up with surplus food on our shelves, so it has been hugely rewarding to be able to turn a retail challenge into a positive output,” said Mr Byrne.

“Finding a solution where the benefits are twofold for both the community and the business has been a significant step forward in the way we as retailers can and should do business.”

Daisyhouse, a charity that provides temporary housing to homeless people, said Foodcloud has made a huge difference in their daily operations.

“The food brings the women who live with us together and we’ve seen strong friendships develop as they share food and recipes. It’s great to come into the centre after a delivery and hear the laughter in the room,” said Daisyhouse chief executive Orla Gilroy.

Before Christmas, Ms Ward was named as one of Time magazine’s ‘Next Generation Leaders’. She said the reaction to this was phenomenal and allowed her to forge international connections.

“After the article in Time magazine we were contacted by various international food banks who are also looking at a retail solution,” she said. “It’s great to think people internationally are looking at Ireland to see what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

Another huge boost for Foodcloud came with a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland award and an investment of €140,000.

“The financial support comes in over a two-year period which is great because it means we’ll still be here in two years! The support has been fantastic as well.

“We have a mentor who’s great and we go see her at least once a month and she give us a lot of support and guidance.”

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