Leveraging SNAP Purchasing Power — 5 Good Food Ideas

5 Good Food Ideas reshaping our food system for the better. Check out previous installments of Good Food Ideas.

1. Leveraging the Purchasing Power of SNAP: In 2016, Propel created a free smartphone app that makes it easy for food stamp recipients to check their EBT card account balances. Locating that information without the app can be very difficult and either requires manually tracking transactions or calling an 800 number followed by long wait times. In addition to the ease of use, when recipients sign up to use the app, they are also in line for add-on money-saving services. Half of Propel’s users do not have bank accounts, for instance, so the company directs those customers to no-fee checking accounts. Or, they help customers find cheaper digital alternatives to payday lenders. What’s even more powerful of an idea is that as enrollment continues on the app, Propel believes they can aggregate purchasing power and drive discounts at grocery stores to save SNAP recipients money.

2. Software Eats the Farm: FarmLogs uses data science to help farmers better manage their farms. Through satellite imagery and connected machinery, FarmLogs pulls and analyzes data continuously to monitor the farm, detect problems, manage risk, and predict changes. Their analysis takes into consideration things like crop health, soil quality, and weather data The level of insight provided goes far beyond anything a farmer could detect on his own. In one example, a farmer was aware of a bad insect infestation on a neighboring farm, but had no way of determining whether his own farm was under attack and then pinpointing the infestation. FarmLogs located the bugs and kept them from spreading. The company now operates on 65 million acres of farmland and one-third of all US farms.

3. The Uber for Rescued Food: If you’re a school, hotel, or restaurant with surplus food but nowhere to donate, the Goodr app comes to the (food) rescue. Like Uber, the app will connect the restaurant with a local food rescue driver who will pick up the surplus food and deliver it to a partner organization, likely a food bank or nonprofit feeding the hungry. After delivery, Goodr then provides the restaurant, school, or food manufacturer with analytics and reporting on their tracked food waste recovery. That data is valuable for two reasons: one, the restaurant can make changes to inventory that could lead to cost savings and reduced waste; and, two, the data can be used to file for tax deductions. Goodr is currently in beta and expected to launch officially in Atlanta in July 2017. The plan is to roll out across Georgia and later to other states. A later feature will be partnerships with local farms whereby Goodr drivers can glean (pick up) and deliver surplus harvests to local nonprofits. The startup currently has a Kickstarter page, where they hope to raise $25,000.

4. The Good Food 100 Restaurants™: When it comes to ranking the best restaurants in the world, we’re all familiar with the Michelin Guide or The World’s 50 Best Restaurants lists. They are prestigious and no doubt crowning achievements for those chosen. The recognition and praise heaped on the world’s best, most inventive chefs is well deserved. What if, however, we expanded that definition of excellence beyond what’s created in the kitchen to encompass what’s achieved across the food system? A new survey and rating system called the Good Food 100 Restaurants aims to do just that. The mission is to change how we value and evaluate our best restaurants and chefs. The definition of truly good food should consider every link in the food supply chain. To do that, the rating system looks at a chef’s purchasing practices to determine the impact his restaurant has on the local economy, environment, and producers. The survey results not only provide us the top 100 list, but it will also produce a national economic assessment of how restaurants are impacting our food system. Both list and assessment are expected to be released in June 2017.

5. Using the Internet of Things to Reduce Food Waste: In early tests with retailers, Zest Labs has proven the effectiveness of a new food waste detection system. By collecting and analyzing pallet-level data in real-time across the produce supply chain, Zest Labs can reduce a retailer’s food waste by half. The instant data analysis allows for rapid decision-making in the event a produce supply is aging faster than anticipated. In these cases, armed with the data, managers can divert delivery to a closer destination. The wealth of data and feedback also means recommendations on changes to the supply chain and distribution practices that can lead to even greater savings. Another win for the food waste prevention revolution.

Originally published at www.thymefries.com on April 11, 2017.