It’s hard for me to believe that, in spite of all the technological revolutions, we still haven’t been able to solve one of the most basic human needs: eating. Yes, hunger continues to be one of the largest problems affecting modern society. And it’s not limited to underdeveloped countries. Hunger is also a huge problem here in our own backyard: 1 in 6 Americans struggles to get enough to eat, while others get oversized portions
The food disparity in America is engrained in cultural behaviors so complex and large that it seems hard to solve. I’m not naïve or pretentious enough to think I cracked the code. Yet I believe that food splitting can be game-changing. Encouraging people to make the conscious decision to share their meals with someone in need can have a tremendous impact at no extra cost for the user. Let me show you how.
Let’s Provide More Than Just Food
When I started working on how to solve food disparity, I felt that most research fell short. I decided to immerse myself in an exercise of extreme empathy. I spent a whole day living on the streets as a homeless person to put myself in the shoes of those in need. I realized that it wasn’t just about providing food. It was really about providing food with dignity.
Many food programs are based on leftover ingredients considered unsuitable for consumer consumption. Donations consist of day-old bread or vegetables that are not in “perfect” conditions. This increases the divide: people end up donating food that is considered waste. I’m not suggesting we should stop these programs; I just think we can do more.
I personally love to cook and enjoy gatherings around food. As such, I believe everyone deserves to eat with dignity. Let’s go beyond donating what we wouldn’t eat ourselves. Let’s share with those in need the meal we would eat ourselves. That’s how GoodPart was born: on the belief that people have the power and will to share their good part.
Using Constraints To Solve The Problem
We always face a dilemma when we work on innovation: we can change the constraints we have or we can use what we have to create change. I chose the latter.
We can spend hours talking about changing the food industry, about how restaurants should serve smaller portions, people should eat less, we shouldn’t throw away doggy bags after a couple of days, etc. Following a judo-approach to problem solving, I decided to use existing constraints in our favor. Instead of changing engrained behaviors, we simply ask people to make some tweaks.
This is how this initiative to promote meal splitting works. When ordering a GoodPart meal in participating restaurants, users can ask to split it. The server will divide the portion into two containers, one for the buyer and one for someone in need following a 2/3, 1/3 split. For example, if you order a three-taco combo, 2 will be for you and 1 will be placed in a separate container to be donated. We’re simply asking people to make a small sacrifice with a huge impact: eat 1/3 less.
In partnership with Zero Percent, we connect restaurants and participating NGOs. At the end of the workday, the latter gets a notification so that they can pick up split meals on a first-come, first-served basis.
Time To Do Your Part
We kicked off GoodPart’s pilot program in the Chicago area by partnering with a dozen of restaurants that are part of the FOODA network. Based on participation and feedback, it seems that we’re off to a good start.
If millions of Americans embrace food splitting, the impact could be huge and at no extra cost for the users. Spread the word. Donate. Volunteer. We need to continue expanding our efforts, adding more restaurants and hands to make things happen. Go and do your part.
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