MIAMI – The percentage of people in south Florida struggling to find enough food for their family rose in a recent study released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Food prices hardly bare all the blame but they feed a parallel problem that a band of businesses found incentive to fix.
The founders behind SQUAREAT, a restaurant focused on fast-service, healthy meals in Miami Beach, could not stomach wasting leftovers.
“I’ve been in this business for like eight years and I’ve seen it when I was not the owner,” Maria Vacaflores, Co-Founder, said. “I was just working there. I was like no. I’ll take it home. Give it me.”
Vacaflores grew up in Bolivia in a home that valued every crumb and sees reason to maintain such value in south Florida
While the USDA study found rising food insecurity around Miami, 40% of all food in the country gets wasted, according to Feeding America.
“If you can’t afford it it doesn’t really matter how much great food there is to have,” Sarah Soteroff, who managers public relations in North America for “Too Good to Go.”
Soteroff’s company runs a food surplus market through the “Too Good to Go” app. It has more than 150 south Florida restaurants involved. Each sells leftovers for a fraction of regular prices.
“Let’s say it’s at 5:30p that (items go on the site), in three minutes it’s been sold,” Alejandra Parrera, Owner of Janette & Co., a bakery that specializes in fresh baked French macaroons made with ingredients flown to Florida from France.
Her hotel and restaurant buyers insist on perfect looking goods, Parrera said. However, the crust on the delicate treats often crack and sometimes leave the business with hundreds of pounds of leftovers.
“There’s people who are wanting food and here we are throwing away food,” she said. “We don’t want to do that. We wanted to avoid that at all costs.”
While she sees new, repeat customers and less waste in her bottom line, the businesses hope for a bigger impact.