FreshSpire Inc. aims to reduce food waste, improve access to low-cost food
FreshSpire, the winning project in the NC State Poole College’s 2015 Leadership and Innovation Showcase’s undergraduate division, aims to move near-expiration food items from grocery stores to households instead of landfills.
Using an app, grocery stores can send a message to customers who have signed up to receive either a text message or updates to a news feed, providing discounted pricing and other information about food products that are approaching their expiration date.
“The idea for FreshSpire originated from a problem in food wastage I noticed in my community,” states Poole College undergraduate student Shraddha Rathod in the executive summary she submitted when entering the Showcase. The project is the continuation of work that Rathod began with teammates while they were students at the North Carolina School of Math and Science.
In her executive summary, Rathod writes that food thrown out by U.S. grocery stores is ending up in landfills “where it makes up an estimated 20 percent of all landfill methane emissions. This can have severe environmental ramifications given methane’s potency as a greenhouse gas. On the flip side of this, North Carolina is ranked among the top in the nation in both the percentage of citizens experiencing food shortages and in childhood obesity.”
She also cites statistics that “global food producers yield enough food to feed 10 billion people. This means that hunger is due to poverty and inequality, not scarcity. Clearly there is an incredible gap in effective food distribution, a gap we are hoping to shrink by targeting food wastage at the source. This is where the idea for FreshSpire found its roots – in the company’s collective attempt to effectively minimize food wastage and food insecurity in a way that engages both grocers and consumers in our surrounding communities,” she states.
FreshSpire’s product is a mobile text notification system and a mobile application that provides users with a newsfeed of grocery store discounts.
It also “offers customers a calendar they can update with the expiration dates of the produce within their homes. Overall, the product promotes availability of nutritious produce to customers tracking their budget, diminishes the amount of food destined for landfills, and minimizes the profit that is consequently lost by grocers when fresh food inventories are not sold before expiration,” she states.
FreshSpire has incorporated and has been a finalist for several awards, including the International Conrad Innovation Challenge, American Dream Seekers Competition, Clinton Global Initiative, ENC Business Plan Competition, Institute for Emerging Issues, and the Baylor New Venture Competition.
“We also received first place in a social entrepreneurship challenge and the MSNBC Growing Hope Challenge, and were named one of 50 companies during Global Entrepreneurship Week,” states.
FreshSpire’s mission is grounded in social benefit and seeks to target issues of food wastage, food insecurity, and access to food in a socioeconomic context, Rathad states, adding, “We are working hard, and cannot wait to make FreshSpire a reality.” For more information, visit the FreshSpire website.
Read more about the Seventh Annual Leadership and Innovation Showcase.