On a day to day basis food waste has become far too commonplace. We are reminded of this fact every time we have to clean out our refrigerators or take home leftovers that we know deep down we’ll never eat. Grocery stores and the farmers that provide their produce, like their consumers, have the same problem but on a much larger scale. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, between 30 and 40 percent of food is wasted every year, due in large part, to stores overstocking produce and aesthetic preference. Food Maven, a company that strives to bring this “lost food” to the hungry, may just change the food waste statistics we see today.
Dan Lewis, a former student of Colorado College, founded Colorado Springs Food Rescue last year as a non-profit that delivered unused foods to local food banks. It was then that entrepreneur Patrick Bultema discovered Dan Lewis’ system and helped him develop Food Maven. Now the company buys many of the food that would otherwise go to waste at a discount and redistributes it to restaurants that craved to access local food sources.Food Maven helps nearly every part of the food production chain, all the way from farmers who have worked to raise their crops, to restaurants that must find a balance to growing labor costs and minimal profit margins.
A recent recipient of the Colorado Restaurant’s “Exceptional Newcomer” award, Food Maven has already grown to 25 employees, 120 clients in both Colorado Springs and Denver, and can gross up to $30 million revenue annually. Food Maven has a aspiring goal to expand even further to 100 cities, 8,000 employees, and $1 billion in annual revenue within five years. Food that doesn’t find its way into restaurants goes to Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado or is given to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and pig farms, but absolutely none of it goes to waste. To Bultema, the fact that 40 percent of food is wasted every year is simply “painful.”
“It’s really good for the industry,” said Airplane Restaurant owner, Steve Kanatzar, “Nothing I’ve ever gotten from Food Maven has ever been substandard. And in fact, much of it has been higher quality than I get from other purveyors.”
Food Maven sheds a beam of hope on the industry of food waste. After all, on a global scale the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that nearly a third of all food on earth is eventually tossed out. This leads to more greenhouse gases, higher burdens on business, and hunger, but companies like Food Haven will try with determination to make a change.