Food waste is a food accessibility issue. Flashfood reported 68% of Americans believe healthy eating is difficult to achieve due to rising food prices. With 119 billion pounds of food wasted in the U.S. annually, reshaping the food system at every stage of production and distribution is critical.
Food inequity continues to shape food policy in the U.S. The upcoming farm bill reauthorization is expected to create more opportunities for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients, potentially including frozen fruits and vegetables, which is lauded by the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) as a sustainable option. With a longer shelf life and pre-portioned serving options, frozen foods are “wasted less frequently than its fresh counterparts at retail stores and in households,” Alison Bodor, president, AFFI said in a previous FoodNavigator-USA story.
National organizations like Feeding America’s platform, MealConnect, distributes surplus food from grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and caterers to food banks. Partnership for a Healthier America’s Food Equity Opportunity Map, provides an accurate representation of food accessibility at the zip code level. The map serves as a tool to assist communities, retailers, CPG brands, and policy makers in identifying areas across the country where improvements are needed to enhance food access.
Flashfood expands services to include SNAP recipients
In February 2023, Flashfood became the first discount grocery app to provide SNAP EBT as an option. The initial rollout started in a Meijer in Greenville, Mich., and later expanded to all 261 stores across Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Wisconsin. The company expects to offer SNAP EBT at all its partner grocery stores in the United States.
Feeding America reports that roughly 34 million individuals experience food insecurity, while government assistance is received by approximately 41 million Americans to support their grocery purchases. Currently, SNAP is primarily offered for in-store purchases, and pending reforms may expand to e-commerce as consumers spend more time shopping online.
“Less than 200 grocery retailers offer SNAP EBT online purchasing, which has made online shopping difficult for SNAP participants—particularly during the pandemic,” according to Flashfood’s report.
Retailers partnering with organizations and technology providers to promote food accessibility are helping shift the food availability and sustainability narrative in the U.S. Flashfood reported its app users saved over $56 million against $18.2 billion a year lost in wasted food.
Further, studies show retailers creating customized content on promotions and coupons are more likely to retain shopper loyalty; and Flashfood’s app, which links a store’s stock (at no cost) with shoppers, helps reduce food waste by promoting fresh food items that are nearing their “best before” date.
The company reported rescuing more than 28 million pounds of food from landfills and improving food access while contributing to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, citing that “8-10% of all GHG emissions are linked with food that is not consumed.”
Best sellers on Flashfood, according to the report, include produce boxes filled with mixed produce, ground beef, chicken breast, ground turkey, fresh Atlantic salmon, among others.
“Retailers play an especially important role because they sit at the center of the food system and have so much opportunity to influence the supply chain upstream and downstream,” explained Dana Gunders, executive Director, ReFed in the report.