COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — One Colorado Springs startup is changing the way leftover food is used.
Massive amounts of food go to waste in the U.S. every day and yet there are still people in our area who have no idea where their next meal is coming from.
Food Maven is working to change that.
“You can login so if we’re looking for Brussels sprouts, we type in Brussels sprouts and then it pops up and tells us if they have Brussels sprouts in stock or not and then we go through and if they have what we’re looking for available, we’ll go through and purchase it and sometimes we’ll find things we didn’t even know we needed,” said Autumn Londo, General Manager of Blue Star, one of the many local eateries now using Food Maven’s services.
Londo said, “There was one time they had vine ripened tomatoes that I mean were just gorgeous tomatoes and we were able to pick them up, bring them in and then we also found mozzarella on the website as well and so we had local mozzarella, local tomatoes and then we had a Caprese salad special.”
According to the USDA, in 2010, 133 billion pounds of food was wasted, amounting to more than $160 billion in the trash.
Sometimes food retailers like grocery stores or wholesale companies have extra products leftover. A lot of times that perfectly good food gets thrown out – that is until now.
“We have now over 120 restaurants and right now we’re just in Colorado Springs so I can pretty much guarantee you’ve eaten our food,” said Patrick Bultema, co-founder and CEO of Food Maven.
He says along with restaurants they’re also serving institutions in town like hospitals, senior living centers, and school districts.
They rely on some local farmers for food but it mostly comes from 5 major distribution companies.
Bultema said, “For our suppliers, you know they’re in a position where they’re kind of stuck throwing away perfectly good food and nobody wants to do that right and plus they actually have disposal costs associated with and a lot of times it’s just like the next truck is coming, it’s in the way and they’ve got to get rid of it.”
Food Maven intercepts the product from those farms and companies before it heads to the landfill. Then they post the items on their website for buyers to see.
“We’ve got a really premium fish right now that again, just got lost, 500 cases at $30 a pound normally,” said Bultema. “The date on it is January of 2018 so we’re getting product that is in many cases before it would even have a chance to get to the grocery store or get to the end consumer.”
“The qualities of food, like the dates, the expiration dates are not expired.” Londo said, “The quality is still right on point and with the fact that we have the ability to special things out and sell them that day or even the next day, the food doesn’t go bad so we actually are getting a steal of a deal on the produce itself and then we’re able to utilize that produce and get it to customers.”
Food Maven borrows storage space at Care and Share Food Bank so unlike many corporate distributors, they can have an order delivered in a matter of hours.
But because of that partnership with Care and Share, Food Maven is dedicated to giving back.
“About 20 to 25 percent of what comes into our marketplace goes straight to charity,” said Bultema. “It either doesn’t really have a market in our customer base or it’s not really a product that’s appropriate so we’re actually facilitating a dramatic increase to partners like Care and Share as well as other charities.”
Londo said, “For the community it’s going to be great because it helps utilize that food that’s actually just going to waste, it’s not going anywhere from where Food Maven is picking it up so for them to be able to get it to us and us to be able to make something with it versus it just going in the trash is a great sustainability practice.”
Food Maven also has a zero landfill policy. Through relationships with pet food companies, pig farmers and more they’re eliminating food waste – one of the largest methane gas producers – from being dumped into landfills.>> Click here to learn more about Food Maven.