When you’re hungry in New York City, there’s no short supply of eateries, from the corner bodega for a quick sandwich to the Michelin-rated restaurants revered worldwide.
Unfortunately, those options may not actually be accessible to everybody living here, whether high-end restaurants just aren’t in your budget or if you’re one of the 1.3 million New York City residents struggling with food insecurity. But now, one New York City-based company has a solution.
Food for All, founded in Boston last year and now headquartered in New York, is an app that aims to lessen food waste. Up to 40 percent of all the food produced in the United States isn’t eaten, and yet one in six Americans struggles with hunger.
Eliminating food waste is only part of solving this problem, so the company is taking their efforts a step further by also helping to alleviate hunger.
Food for All partners with local eateries to offer their end-of-the-day surplus food at a cheaper price. Fast-casual restaurants and coffee shops are the most common partners, said Sabine Valenga, co-founder of Food for All, because they often have prepared meals left over. Higher-end restaurants that cook meals on demand don’t always have something to give away.
Still, they have some food waste, like leftover ingredients or food scraps that could have another use. Chefs often turn those odds and ends into a “family meal” for the restaurant staff, and now, Food for All is letting regular customers try those creations through a program that also gives back to those struggling with hunger in New York City.
Called the Family Meal Special, the program lets customers take home family meals from sit-down restaurants for just $5.
“The family meal is such an exciting concept for us, because Food for All is about making food more accessible to people,” Valenga said. “Before, there was no way that the general public could get access to those family meals that are being developed every day here in restaurants. … I think a lot of people would like to know that they could have dinner for $5 from top chefs in the city, and it actually introduces this whole new dynamic between people and their favorite restaurants.”
Llama Inn, a Peruvian-style Michelin guide restaurant in Williamsburg, is the first restaurant in New York City to offer these family meals in a way that also gives back. For each meal sold through Food for All, Llama Inn will donate $4 to the Food Bank for New York City — a donation that provides 20 meals to those in need.
“What a cool program!” Erik Ramirez, chef and owner of Llama Inn, said in a statement. “We are proud of our family meals and love the idea of offering them to the public, while also contributing to fighting food waste and donating to help those who need food at the same time.”
Plus, those buying the family meals get to see the behind-the-scenes of the restaurant as the staff prepares for that day’s evening service. Family meals are often served before the dinner service starts, and Ramirez is encouraging customers to come in at 4 p.m. “and hang out at a table with our staff or even come eat in the kitchen with the cooks.”
The Family Meal Special is now a permanent offer through Food for All, so next time you’re wondering what to do for dinner, you can be a part of a restaurant’s family meal while providing meals to families in need.