More than 42 million people go to bed hungry in America. To Jasmine Crowe, that's just baffling.
"Some of my friends, people that are close to me, didn’t have food," Crowe says.
As someone who cooks food for a living, she knew she had to do something to help shrink that number.
Crowe explaining the reason behind her mission to help solve food waste and hunger. All photos via State Farm.
She started by hosting pop-up dinners for people who are food insecure. But these weren't just ordinary dinners.
Along with her volunteers, she served three-course to five-course meals, similar to what you'd find at a nice restaurant. They even created menus for people to order from to round out the dining experience.
The goal was to remove each person's food worries for a night and help them just focus on the positives.
However, as the endeavor grew, it started to become expensive to sustain.
"Me and my best friend who’s also a chef, we would make these menus based off of what was on sale at the grocery stores," Crowe says.
Crowe with a fellow chef and volunteer.
That's when she had her epiphany — why not try to solve the hunger crisis with the food waste crisis?
"We waste 72 billion pounds of perfectly good food every year in this country," Crowe says. She couldn't think of a better scenario than one in which one problem could actually solve the other.
Crowe created a sustainable waste management app called Goodr, which "redirects surplus food from restaurants, event centers, airports, and businesses to the millions of people who are food insecure."
Waste not want not, right?
If food suppliers have leftover food that they're just going to throw away, all they have to do is put out an alert through Goodr, and someone will pick it up and take it to organizations that feed the hungry.
For Ryan Whitten, executive chef at Turner Broadcasting, the importance of Goodr's mission hit him around the holidays.
It was perfect timing because, according to Crowe, that's when hunger tends to spike.
Crowe with Whitten.
It ended up being a wonderful experience for everyone involved.
Not only do businesses earn valuable tax deductions for their donations, they can actually see the good it's doing people in real time.
"She would literally take our food and about 20 to 30 minutes later, I would get a picture back with this is where it’s going to, these are the people it’s helping," Whitten recalls.
Thanks to partnerships with large suppliers, Goodr's been able to serve 80,000 meals, including over 2,000 special holiday meals, to people around the country since 2013.
But Crowe's work isn't just helping food insecure people. It's inspiring people of all ages to do more for the less fortunate.
For example, every holiday they do an initiative called Kids Give Back, which offers the younger generation an opportunity to volunteer as servers for pop-up dinners.
A volunteer in the Kids Give Back program.
What's more, the kids who go through it seem to genuinely appreciate the experience.
"I think when we put them in a position where they’re actually serving, it changes their lives more than they know," Crowe says.
Goodr is also inspiring volunteers to get out and start charitable organizations of their own.
"I can’t tell you how many people have started volunteering with us, and then said, 'Hey Jasmine, I love doing this so much, now I’m starting a nonprofit organization,'" Crowe says.
It's going to take more than one organization to solve issues like hunger and food waste, but thanks to Crowe's inspiring work, a serious dent's been made.
Volunteers at a Goodr pop-up dinner.
When you do something meaningful to help others, it creates a ripple effect. Crowe has seen this effect firsthand and has made it part of her mission to keep moving the needle forward.
"Giving creates a cycle of love," explains Crowe. "Everyone benefits. When everyone’s doing something to help someone else, no one loses."
Watch Crowe's whole story here: