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In Chicago, the problem with charity is not its lack thereof, but how to actually get it out to those who need it. A lot of excess food coming from city restaurants are wasted due to lack of resources. Most nonprofit organizations are based on the city’s outskirts, and do not have the necessary resources to pickup the surplus food, then distribute it.

Yet, there’s a new hero in town. Zero Percent, based at Chicago’s core workspace 1871, is a startup committed to put surplus food to its best use. Around 100 businesses, including grocery stores, corporate cafeterias and restaurants, utilize the startup’s platform to safely give away their excess food. They pay the startup to pick up the surplus supply, and the latter coordinates with nonprofits on how they can get it. Now, Zero Percent has started a crowdfunding platform to raise the money needed by nonprofit organizations to facilitate the pick-up.

According to Raj Karmani, CEO and Founder of Zero Percent, as of December  last year the startup helped prevent 1 million pounds of surplus food go to waste. He added that although 250 nonprofits have signed up, only 80 of them are actually getting the food. This is where the crowdfunding platform called comes into the picture. For only a donation of $5, it can generate 15 to 25 meals;  reduce 18 pounds of landfill waste; and conserve  2,464 gallons of water.  Moreover, the donor can choose the charity they want their money to go to.

Farmer’s Fridge, a Chicago based company that has 37 kiosks that provide fresh and healthy food, is one of Zero Percent’s funders. According to Luke Saunders, its founder and CEO, at least 5 days per week, they reach out to Zero Percent. Even though they pay them approximately $250 a month, it is still a lot less compared to the amount that the company would be paying to find ways to prevent food from ending up in landfills.

Before the end of the year, Zero Percent aims to launch in Minneapolis and Nashville. They also plan on integrating the crowdfunding platform in their operations.


Featured image credit to:
© Eric Chan / Flickr

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