Saturday 20 December 2014

App will help Tesco donate over a million meals to needy

Published 02/07/2014 | 02:30

Christine Heffernan , Corporate Affairs Director Tesco Ireland with  in centre Aoibheann O'Brien and on right Iseult Ward
Christine Heffernan , Corporate Affairs Director Tesco Ireland with in centre Aoibheann O'Brien and on right Iseult Ward

TWO entrepreneurs with a conscience have persuaded Tesco to give away over a million meals a year.

From an idea dreamed up over coffee at college, Iseult Ward and Aoibheann O'Brien have convinced the supermarket giant to donate all its surplus food to local charities, using the FoodCloud app they developed to make this a daily possibility.

Foodcloud works by matching retailers and cafes who have excess food that would otherwise go to waste with local charities who can redistribute it quickly to those in need.

Tesco, which has been piloting the system at 18 stores, announced yesterday it will extend it to all 146 stores nationwide, and expects to give away enough food to make more than a million meals a year.

Aoibheann said their biggest challenge now was to get local charities around the country to register with them to take the food – and all community organisations from homeless groups, to those providing meals on wheels or school breakfast clubs are urged to apply.

The food includes fresh fruit, vegetables and meat that is either approaching its best before date or is in damaged packaging but is perfectly edible and nutritious.

While Tesco managed its supply chain very efficiently so that only about half a percent ended up being surplus, that was still a very large amount of food.

As well as the food donations, Tesco is also investing €250,000 in developing the Foodcloud system and rolling out the app to all its stores to ensure efficient use.

Iseult (23) and Aoibheann (28) met when they were students in Trinity College and dreamt up Foodcloud over coffee two years ago.

Aoibheann studied solutions to food waste as part of a Masters in Environmental Science and teamed up with business student Iseult after being inspired by similar ideas coming to fruition in Chicago.

Iseult said that 30pc of food produced worldwide each year was wasted which was a waste of money and resources, and morally troubling when people were going hungry. "In Ireland, we generate one million tonnes of food waste every year," she said.

After working with farmers markets and small retailers their big break came when they developed an app to make it easier to match food donors and recipients and entered into a pilot programme with Tesco last October.

Irish Independent

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