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BOSTON, Mass. — David Rodríguez is making waves in the tech industry with an app that lets users buy discounted, leftover food from local restaurants.
"Why can't people have quality food at a low discount, while also reducing waste?" said Rodríguez, the co-founder and CEO of Food for All.
The app, available on Android and iPhone, pulls up a user's location and then finds participating area restaurants that have deals. From there, restaurants pick the time that customers can go get the food, often at closing time. In most situations, food prices are over 50 percent off.
The first version of the app was launched in Sept. 2017 in Boston, and by fall of 2018, the company had expanded to New York. More than 200 restaurants are participating in the program.
"Our three main categories of users are students, people who care about sustainability and those who are struggling financially," said Rodríguez.
A Natural Resources Defense Council report, "Wasted" found that almost 40 percent of the food produced — about 365 million pounds a day —never gets eaten and is thrown out. Restaurants account for 18 percent of that waste, according to the report.
"At the same time, one in every six Americans face hunger," said Rodríguez.
His app has allowed consumers to get high-quality food for less, while Food for All has diverted over 100,000 pounds of food from the trash can in the process, he said.
The company, Food For All Inc., is based in New York City, but was born as a graduation project when Rodríguez, 29, and co-founders Sabine Valenga and Victor Carreño were in the Hult International Business School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"Food for all is a pivot from a startup, Eventbōx, that got us accepted into the incubation program in the sustainability department at Harvard," said Rodríguez.
There at the Chan School of Public Health’s Sustainable Technologies and Health Program, he and his business partners saw that many coffee shops and restaurants already reduce prices in their final hours of business.
Food for All's initial funding was acquired through a Kickstarter campaign of fifty thousand dollars, with over 640 backers. This got them over 15,000 subscriptions to their website.
Their first restaurant was in Harvard Square, where they could take advantage of the high traffic of students and people working late at night.
Rodríguez is an industrial and systems engineer originally from Irapuato, Mexico; he came to the U.S. for graduate school. He has a Global MBA degree and work experience spanning technology, automotive and consumer goods industries, and speaks five languages.
His talent and experience have not gone unnoticed; Rodriguez was honored last year in the third annual Latino 30 Under 30 celebration put together by the publication El Mundo Boston. The festivities are a yearly homage to young people solving problems in their community — be it in activism, environment, tech, or politics — in a city known for its high concentration of renowned universities and research centers. Rodríguez was selected by a panel of judges from over 300 nominations submitted by institutions like MIT and Harvard University.
“Boston may not have the largest young Latino population, but we believe it has the brightest and most influential in the country," said Alberto Vasallo, III, CEO of El Mundo Boston.