SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A new food sharing service launched this week in Santa Barbara, thanks to help from Down Under.
The Australian team behind MealPass App chose Santa Barbara as a pilot city (along with Seattle) to test out its new app.
Apna Indian Kitchen on State Street is one of the participating restaurants and allowed our camera into their kitchen to help get word out.
This new app is a unique, high-tech way to pair restaurants that have surplus food, like end of the day leftovers, with people who are food insecure. And, there are built in tax deductions for the restaurants.
"The great thing about the app is that it's in real time," said Kim Graham-Nye, Co-Founder of MealPass App. "So, if a restaurant ends up having a mistake order, now they can put it on the app and anyone who has the app is an app user, will get a push notification within three miles that says, 'Hey, there's an extra steak or, you know, there's an extra vegetarian curry.'"
The app user then claims the meal via MealPass and picks it up from the participating restaurant.
"It's really ready-to-eat meals so those meals can't typically go through existing not-profit food channels because they need to be eaten right away."
Graham-Nye said restaurant owners benefit in other ways as well.
"The app brings it all together and also ties in all the reporting for the IRS so the restaurants can take advantage of the tax deductions," said Graham-Nye.
The IRS offers lucrative tax deductions for food outlets that donate to those in need, however, the reporting process can be cumbersome. The MealPass App automates tracking and reporting for the IRS.
The Santa Barbara goal is to deliver 10,000 meals in the month of November as part of their Take Out Hunger campaign. As of Thursday, Graham-Nye said the overall effort has logged more than 5,000.
Restaurant owners who are interested in the app can reach out to MealPassapp.org. The app is free for both participating restaurants and users.
Local residents in need of food can get the app through a number of local charities and nonprofits. Some of the participants and restaurants include:
- Storyteller Children's Center
- Carpinteria Children's Center
- Montesano Group
- Old Mission Santa Barbara
- Apna Indian Kitchen
- Yona Redz
- Via Maestra 42
- Green Table
- Hana Kitchen
- Joe's Cafe
- I.V. Cafe and more