Transfernation has developed a platform to deliver leftover party food to homeless shelters, connecting social institutions with corporate events to ensure that the extra food is re-purposed rather than thrown away.
Food waste is as much a problem in the U.S. as the fact that millions of citizens go without meals every day. One organization aims at bridging this gap by coordinating with businesses and events who have extra food and bringing it to shelters and food banks in need. Transfernation utilizes volunteers via the SocialEffort app, reducing the amount of food that ends up in dumpsters and bringing it to people’s plates.
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Currently a Manhattan-based start-up, Transfernation began in 2013 and now has a staff of three plus some interns. Fundraisers in the month of December are hoped to expand the service to other NYC boroughs, and eventually nationwide. Shockingly, New York restaurants alone throw away a half a million tons of food per year. Samir Goel, one of the NYU seniors who founded the organization, described to Bedford + Bowery growing up in a home where plates were cleaned at every meal. He says, “And as I grew up I got really into healthy eating and quality food. And it was really clear that good, quality food was a product of wealth. And that drove me totally crazy; how is it possible that only people who have a lot of money get good food?”
As John Oliver detailed on his HBO show earlier this year, there are many places that are hesitant to accept food donations, due to fear of liability. Goel explained how this initially made it difficult for Transfernation to procure partners, yet the immediate nature of the service seems to take care of this concern. Those interested in donating food from an event sign up either the day of or a few days before the event and volunteers are alerted through the app. Once a volunteer accepts the task, the food can be transported to places in need the same day.
Transfernation works with multiple missions, shelters, and food pantries across Manhattan. About the experience of being a volunteer, Goel says, “The best part about it, and I think one of the reasons volunteers love working with us, is you get to see who you help. They’re so happy and so grateful, that experience is just really incredibly gratifying.” As Transfernation continues to grow, we will hopefully see less food waste and more people nourished throughout the country.