Sep 16, 2023 3 min read

The Easy Button for Hospitality: Transforming Surplus Food into Impact and Efficiency

Kimberly Smith, CEO of Copia, shares how technology can simplify the donation process for the hospitality industry
The Easy Button for Hospitality: Transforming Surplus Food into Impact and Efficiency

We’ve all had that nagging thought, haven’t we? The one about the sheer waste of food, a pang of guilt each time perfectly good food ends up in the bin. If you’re part of the hospitality industry, this notion probably hits you even harder, given your primary goal of serving people. We all want to do that “thing” we know we should, that thing we genuinely wish we could do. You’ve likely taken steps – ad hoc charitable donations, frequent community engagement, or may even an ESG program in the works (kudos!). But let’s be honest: donating surplus food from your busy kitchens regularly or as needed – whether they are in restaurants, hotels, conference halls, or stadiums – comes with a set of daunting questions and challenges. Who can take my cans of tomatoes or, even harder, my trays of prepared lasagna? Once we find a nonprofit, how will we transport the donation? How do we ensure safe and efficient delivery? Who’s keeping tabs on the financials?

These are all valid concerns, and it often feels like the simplest solution is to just throw out your uncooked or unsold food. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Especially when you have a myriad of other pressing challenges, like rising costs and labor issues to address.

But what if you had an “Easy Button” for doing that thing you know you want to do? What if easily donating your surplus was an indirect but effective solution to these broader issues? Imagine the game-changing impact.

Not long ago, attempting to send a donation to a nearby nonprofit could take hours, if not days. It probably sounded a lot like this familiar scenario to any of your restaurant or kitchen managers:

  • “I have five trays of enchiladas and two boxes of tomatoes that we won’t use”
  • “Let me call around to see if any local nonprofits are interested”
  • “Repeat 10x until I get someone to answer”
  • “I finally found a nonprofit that will take our donation! Oh, only the tomatoes!”
  • “Okay, now how will I get it there? My employees can’t be delivering this…”
  • Gives up, throws food away. Waste hauler charges you for the privilege.

Now imagine the Easy Button scenario. An exhausted restaurant manager, in the midst of dinner service, realizes there’s a surplus of lettuce and trays of pasta. All she wants is to go home to her family, friends, Netflix, or an episode of the Hospitality Hangout podcast. Instead of frantic calls and worrying about sticking around, here’s what she does:

  • Opens the Copia App, enters 10 heads of lettuce and six trays of pasta
  • Sees that Copia has automatically matched this specific donation with a local nonprofit
  • Selects a convenient pickup time within the app (also has option to drop off herself)
  • Receives a notification when the driver picks up – and drops off – the donation
  • Emailed an audit-proof receipt of enhanced tax deduction from Copia

This straightforward action enables her and her team to celebrate their meaningful impact in the community. At headquarters, individual kitchens’ efforts culminate in comprehensive dashboards that maximize tax deductions, demonstrate compliance, inform purchasing and production decisions further upstream in the supply chain, and celebrate environmental impact – across their entire portfolio.

This is the Easy Button we’ve been tirelessly building at Copia. For the hospitality industry, we knew we needed to transform manual processes into automatic, replicable ones across every kitchen. We created the largest recipient network ensuring surplus – both prepared and unprepared – safely finds a home. We developed seamless delivery options for operators without the need for internal fleets. And, of course, we had to make it easy for every member of your organization to act, measure, improve, and report.

So, that thing you’ve wished you could do? You can do it now. Easily. Donating your surplus has a far-reaching impact on all aspects of an organization – operations, compliance, procurement, finance, HR, marketing, and beyond. No one in the hospitality industry wants to see good food wasted, rotting in landfills and emitting greenhouse gases. Everyone wants to help those in our communities who go hungry, especially if they work for you.

Copia is dedicated to making it a no brainer for you to do the right thing for your business and for your community. You now have the Easy Button to be the hero!

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