Mission: To end hunger and food waste in our lifetime.
Background: The latest reports indicate that one in six Americans do not know where their next meal will come from, while more than 40 percent of the food in the United States is wasted. That’s a daily loss of over 263 million pounds of consumable food, the equivalent of $165 billion. Copia (formerly Feeding Forward) got its start at UC Berkeley, where its founder and CEO, Komal Ahmad, had an epiphany after she invited a homeless person to lunch at a cafeteria on campus. As a result of that encounter, Ahmad started a food recovery organization to redistribute surplus consumable food from campus dining halls to nearby homeless shelters and soup kitchens. With the success of that program, Ahmad then joined forces with the Food Recovery Network, a nationwide group with projects on more than a hundred and forty college campuses across the U.S. Today, the organization operates across the Bay Area, with a focus on six cities — Mountain View, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Palo Alto, and San Jose Ahmad — and is looking to bring its on-demand food recovery model to other cities, including Seattle and Boston. Copia is a public benefit corporation and earns a profit from its activities, with businesses paying a modest fee (based on their size, distance from the nearest donee, and duration of the pickup) to have their surplus food picked up and redistributed.
Outstanding Web Features: The Copia online platform makes it easy for restaurants, caterers, grocers, and other businesses with surplus food to request a food pickup. Copia’s unique algorithm then matches that donation to a nearby registered recipient agency (homeless shelter, soup kitchen, etc.) in need of food at that moment. A registered, paid driver is sent to pick up the food and, once the delivery is completed, confirms that everything went smoothly. Copia uses OnFleet, a delivery management platform, to dispatch its drivers (many of whom are previous food pantry patrons) to food pick-up locations. Drivers themselves are equipped with the OnFleet mobile app, which includes real-time predictive technology that gives the donor the driver's estimated time of arrival. Copia’s intensive use of technology enables it to provide food recovery services on-demand, deliver robust data analytics, and scale its efforts efficiently and inexpensively.