Food News

LeftoverSwap App Lets You Trade Leftovers With Strangers

Got leftovers but you don't want to throw them away? Or are you hungry, broke, lonely, have a smartphone, and need a bite? If so, luckily, there is an app for that.

LeftoverSwap is a new smartphone app that solves these problems. Basically, it's like social networking with food scraps.

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But don't lose your lunch just yet. LeftoverSwap could be a simple solution to many health, social, and environmental problems including, but not limited to: obesity, hunger, food waste, destruction of the forests, and social isolation. The app is specifically designed to reduce the amount of food we throw away and force us to get to know our neighbors.

The concept is pretty simple: Open LeftoverSwap, take a picture of your leftovers, then post it on the app's website. Conversely, app users can scan the website's map for leftovers, then arrange for a pickup.

This is good news for freegans, making their chore of acquiring free grub a little easier than diving through dumpsters in search of their next meal (not that there is anything wrong with dumpster-diving).

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The new app was conceived by Seattle entrepreneur Dan Newman a few years ago after he and a bunch of friends ordered so much pizza that they could not fit the leftovers in the fridge. His idea further developed after hosting a freegan couch surfer in his apartment.

"LeftoverSwappers don't feel the need to eat an enormous restaurant portion, and instead pass it on to a hungrier neighbor, in turn learning their name and avoiding excess calories," Newman said on the app website.

But not everyone thinks this app is a good idea, particularly public health officials. In Florida, it might be against the law to give food away without a permit. In Orlando, it is against the law to feed the homeless. In 2010, Miami commissioner Marc Sarnoff wanted to do the same thing, proposing a $300 fine and jail time for anyone caught sharing food with a fellow human being.

But that probably won't deter waste-conscious swappers or hungry freegans. Chowing down on someone's half-eaten meal may sound a little unappetizing, but we guarantee that you'll have no shame if you're that hungry.

LeftoverSwap is currently being tested in the Seattle market but should be released for iOS devices at the end of August. The app will start as a donation-only model only. Newman isn't making money off this app, not yet anyway. If want to start using LeftoverSwap as soon as it comes out, sign up with your email on the app's website to be the first to know.

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David Minsky is U.S. Navy veteran and Tulane graduate who has experience reporting on stories from California, South Florida, and the Deep South. He also won some journalism awards. Email or tweet David with story tips and ideas.
Contact: David Minsky