Food Cowboy, a New Start-up, Helps Food Reach People in Need in a Bid to Solve America’s US$165 Billion Food Waste Problem

About 40% of all food in the United States is either rejected or ‘thrown-away’, which means that Americans spend about US$165 billion a year on food products that they do not consume. Dumpsters and landfills in the United States are teeming with food that could be consumed, but isn’t. This is where a start-up, Food Cowboy, is looking to channel rejected food to areas where it can end hunger and, in the bargain, help save food distributors some money. 

The National Resources Defense Council in the United States says that wasted food costs Americans about US$165 billion annually. This is about two times more than what the federal government expends on food stamps. One of the co-founders of the company, Barbara Cohen, described their role as being an ‘air traffic control’ process that takes in food from a donor and passes it out to a charity. 

Brothers Richard and Roger Gordon, the other two founders of the company were also worried about how excessive food waste was a problem that couldn’t easily be plugged. The two tried time and again to put unused food to the right use by donating it, but were turned down by food banks and charities. Richard, who works as a trucker, would often be looking for charities where he could donate food, but with little luck. Roger states that he has had experiences in the past where entire shipments of food were rejected because the carrots were crooked or the eggplants weren’t the right color. But the trucks, which largely offload at night, always had trouble looking for charities that were open at that hour. That’s when they began to wonder if they could create an application that could help food get to people in need. The app essentially works by helping food distributors find a way to connect with not-for-profit organizations to work out a way to donate. So, Food Cowboy has three essential components – food, truckers, and food pantry systems. 

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