Despite doubts about what hosting a political convention can do for cities, Philadelphia will walk away from hosting the Democratic National Convention with at least one useful new tool. An app created to reduce food waste during the DNC in Philly last month will continue to connect venues with surplus food to organizations feeding the homeless and hungry, Philly.com reports.
The Food Connect app, which was created by a coalition of local anti-hunger organizations, allows caterers, restaurants and vendors with excess food to schedule a pick-up by a volunteer driver who will deliver it to a food pantry, shelter or other emergency meal site. During the eight days of the convention, during which 50,000 attendees descended on the city, the app facilitated the collection of more than 5 tons of food. That’s 11,239 pounds, enough for 9,366 meals, according to city officials. The average donation size was 50 pounds.
Prior to the convention, it had been unclear whether the app would remain after the DNC closed up shop. But because of its success — at least 26 people volunteered to drive, and the app has been downloaded around 300 times — it will stay in use. About 700 food pantries and soup kitchens operate in Philadelphia, according to Food Connect, and nearly 90 percent of them ran out of food or had to reduce their servings last year. Megha Kulreshtha, founder of the Food Connect nonprofit, told Philly.com, “There’s a clear demand for this surplus food. … We’ve just scratched the surface.”
Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.