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A Robust System for Re-Plating Surplus Meals (Update: 10/15/2016 Notes from App Critique)

Re-Plate is a nonprofit tech company that matches high quality surplus meals with communities in need...instantly!

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Re-Plate is a nonprofit tech company that matches surplus high-quality meals with communities in need... instantly!

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Since our launch in January 2016, we have recovered over 120,000 pounds of food for charitable organizations throughout the Bay Area with our unique on-demand transportation system. Our novel approach is economically sustainable: we give our meals free to charitable organizations, and earn an average of $0.40 per meal from our donor-clients. 

Each driver picks up 300-500 lbs of food every day!

We can easily replicate our system in any city that has a high supply of and demand for surplus food. For many of our clients who sometimes spend almost $1 per meal on cleanup costs, our services provide a solution to their waste problem that is even more economically viable than not participating in food recovery. 

Shelters and kitchens Re-Plate healthy and nutritious meals for those in need

The Re-Plate Service is a simple, cost saving solution to our clients’ food waste problem that their employees can feel good about. So not surprisingly, we have seen more than 20% growth each month for seven consecutive months. We also know our method is sustainable, since every single donor of who has ever tried Re-Plate is still with us today.

Donor feel good knowing that the food is going to a better place

We are now looking to implement new solutions for the future, which will complement our current model and accelerates our social impact by tapping into the biggest source of food waste. To close the gap between food waste and food insecurity, we have created an online marketplace for individuals and organizations to "Re-Plate" their excess meals based on their need and location.

Screenshots of the Re-Plate Marketplace (request a beta via our website at re-plate.org)

The Re-Plate Marketplace is a revolutionary web and mobile app that connects individual food donors to individual recipients in real time. A donor can simply post any food on the marketplace and a recipients can claim food based on their need and location, then arrange a time and place to pick it up. The Re-Plate Marketplace will provide everyone with the means to donate their food to whomever they choose, and it will bring awareness to the issues of food waste and food insecurity.

Both of our platforms allow for human-centered experiences that will promote positive social interactions and incentivize more people to take action to prevent food waste and to help feed their community. Food donors will understand the true value of the food that they would otherwise discard and recipients will no longer have to struggle with food insecurity, can nourish their families, and revitalize their communities.

Our eco-friendly cargo trikes are in operation in NYC!

For more information about Re-Plate's story, check out our Medium Article, and follow us on twitter @re-plate #replateyourmeals.

User Research:

After speaking to our donors over the last few months, we have heard the same comment almost unanimously: "we try to be good about ordering just the right amount of food, but sometimes its hard to predict, and so when we have too much, its nice to know that Re-Plate can get the food to someone who needs it." 

This confirmed what our business model already made clear: there is ample demand for the Re-Plate food recovery service. 

How about demand and accessibility for the Re-Plate Marketplace?

Over the course of two weeks, we asked the recipients at shelters and kitchens the following questions:

1- How often do you worry about food? (Options: Daily, Several times per week, Weekly)

2- Do you have access to a refrigerator?

3- Do you have access to a smartphone?

4- Do you have access to a computer?

5- Do you have access to internet?

After speaking with 100 individuals, we obtained the following results:

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We also asked recipients if they felt comfortable asking others for food. Most recipients said that it depends on the situation (how hungry they were at the time, what type of food, who the donor was). However, almost everyone agreed that it would be easier for them to request food if they could do so remotely and anonymously.

User Journey 

Our goal is to provide our donors and recipients with the most seamless experience for donating and receiving surplus food. We constantly strive to improve our platform by testing, gathering feedback, and collaborating with professionals.

Notes from our Marketplace IOS app critique on October 14, 2016
Click image to see staging of our platform 2.0
The Re-Plate Marketplace on the web

For a video demonstration of the Re-Plate Marketplace, watch the two short clips above. Additional screenshots of our platform are available on request.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We are currently in the process of beta-testing our marketplace app with the UC Berkeley Food Security Program and the UC Berkeley Campus. We have also experimented with using community fridges around different neighborhoods in an effort to increase accessibility, and would like to explore these opportunities further.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Since our inception in January, we have experienced 20% growth each month, and are now launching in NYC. But in order to provide the greatest level of accessibility to both donors and recipients, we need to grow, scale up, sustain, and continue to innovate. With the support of the OpenIDEO community, we can significantly amplify our food recovery efforts.

Tell us about your work experience:

Our core team consists of a passionate group of entrepreneurs with backgrounds in public policy, health, nutrition, food justice, technology, law, environmental economics, and behavioral economics. We also have advisers who specialize in design, programming, and marketing.

This idea emerged from

  • A group brainstorm

How far along is your idea?

  • It’s launched and we’re working on gathering more feedback – it’s existed for over 6 months

How would you describe this idea to your grandmother?

It’s like donating food on the classified section of a newspaper, except much faster and free.

[Only for launched ideas] How does your idea differ from what you're already doing?

One Saturday afternoon a grocery store manager outside of our usual coverage area, called and wanted us to recover five pallets of produce. He told us that if we didn't pick it up in less than an hour, they would throw it away. It was heartbreaking because there was nothing we could do. To prevent us from becoming a bottleneck for our own cause, we began developing our online marketplace where anyone can donate and receive food.

How is your idea unique to the space?

The Re-Plate service is unique because the donation process is streamlined, and our recovery model is highly scalable. We provide the most reliable service for our clients, of which 85% are now subscribers. This also allows us to have a consistent, predictable, measurable supply of food for our recipients, thereby preventing them from wasting any of the food that we rescue. Additionally, our marketplace is the only one that allows for donations from any individual or organization.

Who needs to play a role in your idea in order to make it successful?

Anyone who suffers from food insecurity should feel comfortable using our platform. By working with shelters, kitchens, and other nonprofits, we can reach out to the community and educate them about Re-Plate.
Donors must be encouraged as well. We are currently working with Cooley LLP to balance safetynets with incentives to provide the safest, most positive interaction for all users.
We will also need to build more relationships with design experts and marketing gurus to strengthen our brand.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Re-Plate’s impact will be measured by the number of successful transactions made on our platform, meals re-plated, pounds of food rescued, carbon footprint, money saved by businesses using the service, and by the satisfaction of our users. We also measure our impact by how often others want to collaborate and partner with us, which we believe to be a good sign that we're doing the right thing.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

We’re going to continue re-plating food and feeding communities in need. With the support of the OpenIDEO community we will be able to allocate more resources towards onboarding new clients through marketing, direct sales, and expanding our operations geographically. We will also continue to improve our web and mobile technology and design to improve accessibility and satisfaction. By focusing on our growth and scalability, we will be able to expand our reach and increase our impact.
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Donor and recipient coordinating a pickup!

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I love this idea! I come from a third world country and would love to see this platform implemented in our community. I would like to ask what happens if demand is greater than the supply of food? Also, how do you maintain the food quality standards to ensure that the food being redistributed is still safe from consumption? Also, aside from leftovers how about partner with retailers who have items that are about to expire and distribute to those in need?

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