Leftover food waste is a big problem, but I’m a little bit skeptical about the Leftover Swap app that NPR reported on the other day. Here’s how it will work. People who have leftover meals (called givers) can take a picture of the leftovers and offer it up to people in their geographical area via the app. People who want the food (called takers) can arrange to pick up the food or even swap food that they have. No money is exchanged.

It reminds me a little bit of Freecycle for food, except I think Freecycle is a brilliant idea. I’m not so sure about Leftover Swap. Even though I frequently give you tips and suggestions that help you not waste food, I don’t know if I’d ever say, “Give your half-eaten food to strangers.”

Wait a minute. I tell that to my children. When we’re in the city for dinner, we take our leftovers to go and end up giving them to someone who is asking for food on the streets.

So maybe I’m being very closed-minded when it comes to the app. Maybe this is brilliant. Maybe this is a way for people who are hungry to get good meals while those who want to prevent food waste can do so while helping someone out.

Co-founders Dan Newman and Bryan Summersett will offer the app for free. They know it’s not a big money maker, but they see it as a solution to an environmental problem.

"We're not gonna make millions," Newman says. "[The environmental concern] is a big part of it. There's a bunch of studies about how much more food we need to produce for the world population by 2050, and how fertilizers are less effective and our current rate of producing food isn't going to suffice. Meanwhile, in the US we produce so much more food than we consume and so much is going to waste."
There are certain questions that come to my mind about safety issues with this type of leftover food swapping. How do you know the food hasn’t been sitting out too long? How do you know the person who ate half of the food isn’t about to come down with the flu and is giving you half a very germ-y Chicken Parmesan? Do you really want to give your home address to someone you don’t know so they can pick up your leftovers? Am I totally over thinking this?

It will be interesting to see how it all works out once the app is ready to download. What do you think? Is the Leftover Swap app a good solution to food waste? Would you use it as a giver or a taker?

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Leftover Swap food sharing app in the works
Would you take a photo of your leftovers and offer to strangers in your neighborhood? If so, this app might be for you.