Taking Food from the Rich & Feeding the Poor in the Bay Area
As the Bay Area, and many other parts of America, slide into a Late Roman Empire school of excess, the rift between the haves and the have-not’s grows greater by the day. In a world where people sleep on the streets in front of multi-million-dollar homes, trying to find a way to combat the disparity can feel impossible. But, thankfully, from the shadow of these looming issues, elegant solutions are being born, meet the Bay’s own Re-Plate.
When Founder and CEO, Maen Mahfoud, moved from Syria to the United States to attend medical school, he believed he was going to a country where, for the most part, everyone was rich and happy. Sure, he found a country with dizzying wealth, but he also found a startling counterpoint to those elements of American cultural fantasia. It was seeing this yawning gap that propelled Maen on a path that lead him away from medical school and got him to focus on these multifaceted issues of wealth and poverty, and the systemic problems they manifest. Thus, began the creation of Re-Plate, an amazing company that seeks to unite folks with food on a whole new level.
Founded in January 2016, Re-Plate’s mission is simple: to connect potentially wasted food with people who are hungry. Sure, a lot of people do this, but what makes Re-Plate innovative is how they go about tackling this problem. By getting large corporations who provide employee food options to donate their good, but unused, food to local non-profits who feed hungry people Re-Plate is uniquely bridging the gap between two worlds. And let me tell you, it’s catching on quickly. Since opening approximately a little over a year and a half ago, Re-Plate has locations all over the Bay Area and have recently expanded to New York City and Los Angeles. In the Bay Area alone this translates into 1,000 healthy, fresh meals provided to those in need. This is powerful stuff.
The program is simple. Businesses who have meals or food sign up on Re-Plate’s easy to use website, pay a nominal fee, and set up food pick up schedule and boom! Done! A driver comes and whisks the uneaten meals away to non-profits who feed community members. It is Maen’s belief that this interaction between businesses donating to those less fortunate isn’t just practical, it’s also instilling a culture of empathy. It might sound high flying, but it makes sense. By participating in Re-Plate, businesses are communicating, mindfulness among their employees and care to the greater community.
“365 Million pounds of food is wasted everyday in the US, and at the same time as many as 1 in 6 face hunger” – Re-Plate
With the tech-boom here in the Bay Area, we are in a unique position to really interacting with the polarizing effects that wealth and poverty have on a community. At times, it all seems so big and impossible to even pick apart. As corny as it sounds, it’s so nice to see folks caring for others and creating a way for perhaps, dare we say it, empathy to follow in their wake.