Can I really call something a “palate cleanser” if it’s about eating someone else’s leftovers?
Note well: This isn’t some sort of food bank app where you donate stuff you’ve cooked but haven’t eaten yet to the homeless. This is “Leftover Swap.” Swap. And it’s not aimed exclusively at home-cooked food. In theory, if you’re sitting in a restaurant with the remains of a meal on your plate and you just can’t finish, you’re good to go.
Anyone want to trade for a half-eaten bowl of cold soup? I’m in the market for a few bites of a tuna sandwich that’s three hours old, or maybe some Chinese where the grease has already congealed. Make me an offer.
Launching at the end of August, the app lets you take a photo of what’s left of your meal, post it, and then wait for someone nearby to claim the food — or even trade their leftovers for yours.
The brains behind the app are Bryan Summersett and Dan Newman, who said they came up with the idea three years ago while roommates at the University of Michigan…
The San Francisco-based site claims that the app will help solve the problems of food waste, obesity and malnutrition. However, it remains to be seen if people are willing to dive into a stranger’s soggy half sandwich.
Newman says he and co-founder Bryan Summersett, a Seattle-based programmer, came up with this “ridiculous” notion while college roommates at the University of Michigan three years ago. “It was an outrageous joke in 2010, but in 2013, it’s very plausible and something that people would use today,” Newman says.
The founders aren’t sure how to actually make money from Leftover Swap. For now, they see it as an effort to do good.
All that’s standing between the supply of leftovers and the demand from hungry homeless people is making sure the homeless all have smartphones. And also finding diners who are willing to sit around and wait for a claimant (or a potential “swapper”) to show up and claim the uneaten prize. You wouldn’t mind someone like that coming to your front door, would you?
Check the website and note the graph on the lower right, projecting dwindling food waste over the next four years — thanks to Leftover Swap — with a corresponding uptick in, er, the population of Northern Spotted Owls. Obviously a hoax, right? If they’re serious about releasing an app, it can only be as some sort of grand goof, to see how many people out there would be willing to try it. Good news for “freegans,” though, at least: Now they can eat directly off of people’s plates instead of rifling through the dumpster to find dinner.
Exit question: If even San Francisco finds this lifestyle a bit too alternative for comfort, what hope is there for the rest of America?