Mealku: Urban Food Sharing

Mealku Food Sharing Application

As a sign of just how interconnected we are becoming, New York City has an ambitious new company called Mealku that is striving to promote the sharing of food among strangers. In the past we have seen other somewhat intimate forms of sharing. ZipCar allows strangers to share cars, Airbnb allows strangers to share their homes and decades old consignment shops allow strangers to share clothes. Many of these ideas have seemed controversial at first but have proved to be extremely beneficial to all parties involved. Meal-sharing brings the amount of trust and concern to a whole new level, but it will likely still be a great new innovation.

How Mealku Works

Before discussing why Mealku is such a great idea, we should look at exactly how it works. Right now, the company exists only in New York City but has plans to expand to other cities in the near future; food sharing can only reach it's niche market in large cities. The concept behind Mealku is that most people prepare more food than they can eat at once. Inevitably that leaves the average person with leftovers. You are then faced with a choice. Do you keep eating the same meal for several days and get sick of it, or do you throw away the leftovers? 

What if there were another option? Rather than throwing away those extra tacos or eating them for days, what if you could give them away? That's the idea behind Mealku. When you have made extra food, you can display it on the Mealku app for other users to see. You earn points for the food that you put onto the app.

Now the other side. You are a busy person and you are very hungry. There are plenty of places to get fast-food but you would much rather cook a healthy meal for yourself. But you just don't have time. The Mealku app allows you to choose fast-food like speed options that have been home prepared by other people. You see the tacos and think wow I would love a taco and so you order one.

Mealku delivery staff bridge the gap between the cook and the consumer by picking up the food from one location and delivering it to the next, free of charge. The cook earns points by cooking and the consumer spends points to buy food. You don't need to cook to earn points, you can also use money. The point system is intended to reward cooks. Another note is that Mealku will inspect your kitchen before allowing you to cook, this is intended to provide a quality control.

Mealku's Benefits

As people start to use Mealku, we begin to as a society realize great benefits. First and foremost we reduce food waste. Every year millions and millions of tons of food that could be eaten are just thrown away. Companies like Mealku can cut into these numbers and increase the efficiency of our food distribution system. On a large scale, bringing alignment between food supply and demand could help to control food prices and ensure that everybody gets fed. This is so important but until now it has been hard to achieve.

The large scale gains translate into economic benefits for everyone involved. It costs extra money to purchase and cook food that you ultimately throw away. It also wastes your precious time. Assume 20% of your food is extra and becomes wasted. If you spend $100 per week on groceries you are essentially shredding $20 per week, $80 per month, $1040 per year! Now you can recuperate these losses because someone else is paying you for these excesses. 

Finally we should look at the health benefits. By engaging with a company like Mealku we reduce our reliance on fast-food. Rather than eating quick unhealthy food from McDonalds, you now have the option of getting quick healthy food via Mealku. Think about how much healthier we could be if everyone stopped eating at fast-food restaurants. Even if you were the type of person to avoid fast-food, you may sometimes be stuck eating leftovers. It is important to have a balanced diet and so removing repetition from meals is a great way to make sure that all food groups are being covered.