One day in 2011, University of California at Berkley student Komal Ahmed encountered a homeless man asking for money to buy food. In lieu of giving him money, Ahmed invited the man to have lunch with her. The story he told her touched her so deeply that she decided to do something big.
According to Ahmed, the man was a 26-year-old veteran who served two tours in Iraq. When he returned home, he was homeless and penniless — forced to live on the streets.
Ahmed was so stunned by the young man’s story that she took action, developing a school-wide program that brought leftover food from the dining hall to local homeless shelters. Soon, the program began to spread past UC Berkley and eventually made its way to 140 additional colleges nationwide.
Now, 25-year-old Ahmed is the CEO of Feeding Forward, a nonprofit organization that uses an app to allow Bay area companies to arrange for a driver to pick up and deliver excess food to local food banks and shelters. The organization was born out of the troubling reality that an estimated 50 million Americans have gone hungry while 365 pounds of food is thrown away each day.
“Imagine a football stadium filled to its brim. That’s how much food goes wasted every single day in America,” Ahmed said.
Feeding Forward was launched in 2013, and since then has fed over 570,000 people in the Bay area and distributed over 684,000 pounds of leftover food. Now, Ahmed is working to expand her organization to major cities like Boston and Seattle.
“These are huge cities that have absurd amounts of food thrown away every day,” she said. “We are trying to make the Bay Area a case study to say ‘Hey, if it works here, it can work anywhere.'”
Learn more about Feeding Forward in the video below.
Photo Credit: liftbump.com