New app promises discounts for customers while helping restaurants avoid food waste

CHARLOTTE — “Too Good to Go,” an app focused on cutting food waste is launching in Charlotte, June 5.

The app promises to connect users with deals at participating restaurants, bakeries and other food vendors to help ensure perfectly good food doesn’t end up in landfills.

The app itself launched in 2016 in Denmark and has since spread to 17 countries across Europe and North America. Charlotte and Raleigh are the latest cities to join the app as it gets its start in North Carolina.

Too Good to Go spokeswoman Sarah Soterhoff explains the app works based on your location. It shows participating businesses in your area, when their food will be available and price, usually between 30-50 percent less than the retail cost. Then you can reserve “a surprise bag” based on the leftovers that business has available and pick it up before closing time.

“This allows businesses to reduce the impact of food waste,” she said. “They can recoup what would otherwise be lost revenue.”

Neville Storer, the chef and owner of Yard Cooked Dishes, was one of the first in Charlotte to sign up.

“Early last month I saw an email flash on my phone that said, ‘We will buy your leftovers’ and I was like, ‘Huh,’” he said.

At his Jamaican restaurant, he said he preps a number of slow-cooked recipes every morning so it’s fresh for the day, but ultimately, he a ends up with leftovers at the end of each night. He said he usually tries to box it up and find someone to give it to, but logistically, that’s not always possible.

“After working 20 hours in here sometimes I just don’t even want to deal with that so it’s just like I throw it away,” he said.

Now, he said Too Good to Go offers a better option. He said he’s happy to see his food go to people who want it and he’s sold out of surprise bags a few nights so far.

“I’m actually giving you like real good food,” he said. “It’s not trash. It’s actually food that’s sellable.”

He said he’s even heard from customers who plan to come back and try the restaurant out again.

Soterhoff said the app isn’t trying to compete with other food rescue efforts that connect grocery stores and vendors with food banks and pantries, but it’s aiming to fit a niche that those efforts often miss.

“What we account for is kind of that middle level of food waste,” she said. “So the amount that isn’t big enough to donate to a food bank and that happens on more of a frequent basis, so multiple times throughout the day or multiple days a week.”

The app already has a few participating vendors at the time of launch, but Soterhoff said there’s no cutoff to other businesses. New restaurants can join at any time.

(WATCH: How to use restaurant apps to save money)

Michelle Alfini

Michelle Alfini, wsoctv.com

Michelle is a climate reporter for Channel 9.

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