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The app that’s helping to solve the world’s food crisis

Iseult Ward, 25, came up with the idea for FoodCloud at university – now the app is helping to feed thousands across the UK and Ireland
The app that’s helping to solve the world’s food crisis
February 12, 2017   |    Iseult Ward

The idea behind FoodCloud began when I was a student in my third year of a business and economics degree at Trinity College, Dublin. I met my now business partner, Aoibheann O’Brien, at an event she hosted on food distribution.

It was then I discovered that 30% of food globally goes to waste each year, despite the fact that one in 10 people in Ireland alone are currently suffering from food poverty. I was shocked by the statistics. Meal times had always been a source of joy in my family and, yet, the modern food system raises so many moral questions.

Both Aoibheann and I felt passionately about finding a solution to the problem (starting off in Ireland, where we’re from) as there was no national solution at the time. Straightaway, we set about working on ideas. Was there a way for us to connect supermarkets and companies, who had leftovers, with local charities, who desperately needed them?

When we graduated a year-and-a-half later, we had a very basic concept, which we began to approach retailers with. I don’t think either of us necessarily believed it was going to become our full-time job, we viewed it as more of a passion project, while studying at university.

TIME FOR CHANGE

But we did spend months looking at international companies to see what others were doing to address the problem. There was lots of brainstorming involved and, eventually, we resolved that an app would be the easiest way to link supply with demand. Before developing any technology, though, we focused on building relationships with relevant charities and organisations. By the end of the year, Tesco had signed up for a trial with us.

Now, four years on, we can appreciate the impact FoodCloud has started to make, having worked with over 2,800 different charities. Since the beginning of this year, we’ve partnered with 70 companies per month.

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FACING FACTS

The best part has been getting feedback from various communities. Last Christmas Eve, for example, we gave away turkeys in association with Tesco to people who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to enjoy a Christmas dinner.

Food wastage is a complex issue but we believe there are opportunities to develop our work internationally, so that we can deal with the problem on a global scale. As much as 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year – there’s simply no excuse for that.

Visit FoodCloud

FIND YOUR BALANCE

Iseult’s dos and don’ts on turning an idea into reality

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Find a partner
Having someone you get on with is of great help.

Be patient
After my exams ended, I was able to give FoodCloud my full attention.

Be passionate
Food poverty is what we feel strongly about.

Be afraid
One thing is to not fear failure.

Ignore feedback
Some of the initial feedback wasn’t great, and we were able to learn from that.

Just work
We take time out to celebrate with the team.

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