Waste Not, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit agency that rescues perishable foods before it goes to waste and delivers it to those in need, has launched the MealConnect app, a free and easy way to deliver excess food products to nonprofits helping feed the hungry.

After a successful and well-received soft launch last spring just as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, MealConnect “is easy to use and requires no obligation from the user, only that they use it when they have surplus food,” says Hillary Bryant, community engagement manager at Waste Not. “MealConnect users don’t need to donate a lot of food to be part of the effort because every donation, no matter how big or small, has an impact. And, with the intensifying impact of the pandemic, the need for food items also is growing.”

Users of the app are immediately connected with nonprofits in their community and local volunteer drivers who deliver the food.

“The process of donating meals through MealConnect is seamless and very user-friendly,” says Samantha Liotta, a sports dietician for Sun Devil Athletics. Liotta and her team create balanced, nutritious meals for ASU student athletes. “It makes the process so easy and we have recommended it to others to use. It feels good knowing our excess nutritious meals are being donated to those who need and appreciate them. All the volunteers have been kind and great to work with as well.”

The app has significant benefits for the community and for donors:
• Nonprofit agencies, including homeless shelters, transitional housing, senior facilities, preschools and after-school programs, rehabilitation centers and food pantries receive food with no cost for distribution to individuals and families.
• Food businesses reduce waste costs, generate tax savings and help those in need.
• The food donation system addresses food insecurity in a state where one in four children go to bed hungry every night and one in five adults lack consistent access to adequate food.

“Our goal is to add to our base of more than 70 generous local food businesses, including restaurants, catering companies, resorts, grocery stores and event venues that consistently donate excess perishable food that would otherwise go to waste,” Bryant says. “Expanding our base means that we can provide food to more people in more communities across the Valley.”

Nationally, more than $218 billion is spent on food every year that is never eaten. Waste Not provides nearly 3.5 million meals a year through donations. In 2019, Waste Not diverted 963 tons of food from landfills, a total value of more than $2.2 million.

For more information about MealConnect, to donate food, or to become a volunteer driver, contact Community Engagement Manager Hillary Bryant at Hillary@wastenotaz.org or 602-361-9162. For more information about Waste Not, visit wastenotaz.org.