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App saves 65,000 meals from being thrown out in Waterloo Region

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An app that aims to reduce waste from restaurants and grocery stores, while helping shoppers save money, is gaining traction across Waterloo Region.

Too Good To Go links shoppers to businesses with a food surplus so they can save money, while the business reduces waste and recoups some costs.

Businesses that have surplus foods throughout the day can post their “surprise bags” on the app. Shoppers who have the free app can purchase the bags as they’re posted at a lower cost, but they don’t know what exactly is inside the bag until they pick it up.

“For grocery stores, they’ll have different categories. So they may have a produce bag, they have a prepared meal bag, they have a milk bag, they have a deli bag. So you’ll see the category, but you’re not going to know the actual breakdown of the food that you have in your surprise bag,” Too Good To Go spokesperson Sarah Soteroff said. “You’ll see the original value and what you pay is one third of that value, which is tremendous for consumers looking to save some money. The store can then recoup some of what would otherwise be lost revenue off of that food.”

Since launching in Waterloo Region in 2022, Too Good To Go said it saved almost 65,000 meals from being thrown out.

The number of meals saved in the region in January 2024 was four times higher than in January 2023.

Eddie Hall, a Kitchener resident with a large family, said he and his fiancé check Too Good To Go daily for anything that might be a good fit.

“We’re a big, blended family and groceries are expensive, especially nowadays,” Hall said. “It’s nice to be able to grab a box of treats and just throw them on the table and say ‘help yourselves,’ or pack some in lunches and offset the grocery bill a little bit every time.”

Hall said he’s watching the app slowly grow in popularity.

“It’s a lot of our little circle of friends between me and my fiancé, but I started telling people at work cause not a lot of them knew,” Hall said. “It’s been kind of taking off.”

Kitchener resident Eddie Hall used the Too Good To Go app daily.

One shop Hall said he keeps an eye out for on the app is Lady Glaze Bakery, but he said they always sell out quickly when they’re posted.

Lady Glaze co-founder Mark Brown said they first started using Too Good To Go in November, posting one-day old donuts.

“It helps reduce the cost for someone to try our products, even though they’re not sort of optimal freshness, you still kind of get an idea of what we do,” Brown said. “It also just reduces the amount of food that goes to waste.”

Lady Glaze has been donating food to local organizations since opening in 2021, but Brown said shipping products around regularly can be a challenge.

The app offers another avenue instead of throwing away donuts that are still good to eat in the garbage and recoup some costs. Too Good To Go takes a flat rate of $1.99 per surprise box that’s sold, with the business getting the rest.

“Ultimately the cost of the box down to the reduction that you see [on Too Good To Go] virtually covers the ingredients that are in there. So it helps a business recoup anything that would have gone into the bin,” Brown said.

The app also helps bring business into Lady Glaze shops.

“When they go on the Too Good To Go app in the city of Cambridge to see what’s available and we pop up, they’re actually learning about this location and it’s actually converting them into customers,” Brown said.

“When they walk in and they see the fresh product we’ve put out that morning when they’re picking up they’re deals, they’re like ‘oh I’d like to try that as well.’”

  

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