Too Good To Go: The App That Allows Users to Save the Planet at Closing Time

Reserved bag of food from Con Pane Rustic Breads & Cafe. Photo credit to Anna Clancy.

By: Anna Clancy

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this news story are those of the contributing author, a Point Loma Nazarene University dietetics student.

In response to the growing concerns surrounding food waste, Too Good to Go, an app created by Thomas Bjørn Momsen and colleagues, aims to reduce the global burden of food waste by  connecting its users to food establishments with unsold food. Created in Denmark in 2015, the app made its first appearance on U.S. phones in the fall of 2020. App users are encouraged to order and reserve a restaurant’s remaining food at the end of the business day for a reduced price, acquiring food that would otherwise be discarded. Users select their establishment of choice and are prompted to select a payment method to reserve their order. The app will then notify the customer concerning the pickup window for their food reservation. 

The United States’ food waste crisis has prompted individuals and organizations to explore solutions to combat the growing issue. According to Feeding San Diego, a local non-profit working to end hunger through food rescue,“In 2021, 38% of the 241 million tons of food in the U.S. was wasted, either unsold or uneaten.”  Cumulatively, this food waste amounts to approximately 149 billion meals worth of food, roughly two percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. While a percentage of this food was utilized to support those who are experiencing food insecurity, the rest became food waste in the form of unsold or uneaten food, as it made its way to landfills across the nation.

In light of the current reality of food waste in the United States, Too Good to Go equips the public with a mobile application that connects users to unsold food, reducing the amount of food that goes unsold and into landfills.

Fourth-year dietetics major and Student Dietetics Association president Leah Skrzyniecki has been using the app for three years and appreciates being able to reduce food waste while enjoying local restaurants and bakeries. “I love being able to try new places while also helping to combat food waste,” Skrzyniecki said. “I also feel good about supporting small businesses by purchasing their unsold food.”

I ventured to try the app for myself in December and reserved a bag of the end-of-the-day baked goods from Con Pane Rustic Breads & Cafe in Liberty Station. Since the app does not inform customers of the contents of their reserved bag, it’s a mystery you will solve at pickup time. After I showed the employee proof of my in-app purchase, I was given a bag consisting of an entire loaf of bread and three pastries, all for $5.38. While this comprises the contents of the bag I received, each bag will vary in quantity and type of products.

In the Point Loma area alone, numerous businesses such as Peet’s Coffee, Espresso Lab, Mr Moto Pizza, and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters are also participating establishments, while other  locations outside of Point Loma include CAVA and Blue Bottle Coffee, among others. What if your favorite food establishment is not a participating location? The app allows users to give the name and location of their favorite restaurants for app managers to contact the business and ask if they would be interested in becoming a registered partner. 

As awareness of the mounting food waste problem in the U.S. grows, Too Good To Go empowers individuals to become warriors against food waste through a mobile application that enables anyone to be a part of the solution by rescuing food from an unfortunate fate.