The story of Huzaifah Khaled is undoubtedly familiar to anyone working in a major tech hub like San Francisco or Seattle. During his commute into the city by train, he would encounter homeless people at the station. Unlike so many of us, Khaled actually did something to help the problem in a way that highlights how food tech can be a force for social good.
Khaled started Action Hunger, a company that uses vending machines to dispense necessary items for the homeless. The program launched last month in Nottingham, England and is meant as an easy way for homeless people to get items like healthy food, water, socks or toothpaste.
The vending machine is connected with the Friary, a homeless center in Nottingham. The Friary hands out keycards to its clients who can use the cards to access three items from the vending machines a day for free. By using a vending machine, the homeless can get necessities at any time, and are not restricted to the open hours of the Friary.
Action Hunger will monitor what items are most used and adjust inventory accordingly, and Khaled hopes that by providing some basics for free, he can track long-term usage and help people get off the street. Action Hunger has plans to expand to New York City next month, and then into San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles.
We write a lot about how food tech startups are working up and down the food stack to reduce waste and improve efficiency, but it’s good to highlight groups like Action Hunger who make an immediate impact, including:
- Growtainers, a vertical farm company that allows food banks to grow their own food without needing lots of land and labor.
- KitchenNet is using the meal kit concept to get healthier food into food-insecure areas.
- Copia is a platform that connects businesses that have excess food with nonprofits who can use it.
- Propel developed FreshEBT, which helps low income families manage their food stamps.
As we look out for food tech trends in the new year, let’s hope to see a lot more startups focusing on social good.