Dibbs, a local startup, is tackling food waste by connecting fresh foods in grocery stores which would otherwise be wasted to food distributing agencies. By doing so, Dibbs is at the forefront of solving some of the biggest challenges facing many Americans today. The USDA estimates that 30-40% of our current food supply is wasted and that 1 in 7 U.S. citizens don’t have reliable access to sufficient, affordable, and nutritious food. Dibbs is the solution that the U.S. desperately needs.

Kathleen Hu, Dibbs co-founder, was in France during a gap semester last year when she began seriously thinking about food waste in the U.S. She discovered an app in France that connected restaurants to consumers to purchase discounted meals at the end of the day. Wanting to bring a similar technology back home, Kathleen formed a team and competed in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign COZAD New Venture Competition. Although the app was successful in earning their team a position in the finals, Kathleen soon realized an even bigger impact could be achieved by translating the concept to food retail. Ten weeks later, and with the help of co-founder Sohinee Oswal and funds and mentorship provided by iVenture, Dibbs is functioning in a pilot stage with two local grocery stores, Common Ground Co-op and Fresh International Market.

So how does it work? Dibbs is a transparent mobile app platform that lets grocery stores communicate, in real time, that food is nearing the end of its shelf-life. Then, food agencies simply call “dibbs” on it through the app and pick it up for distribution to consumers. In its one week pilot period at Fresh International Market in Champaign, Dibbs was able to save $270 worth of food, or 110 pounds of fresh food that was distributed through Wesley Food Pantry to community members in need. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Consumers were pleased to see a variety of international foods that aren’t normally available, some bringing back flavors from home for international community members.

Kathleen and Sohinee hope that Dibbs can grow to partner with at least ten grocery stores by January 2018 and to have distributed 25,000 pounds of food by April 2018. More importantly, they aim for Dibbs to be a sustainable and practical solution to the food waste and food insecurity crises in the U.S. Interested in helping? Dibbs will be actively looking to fill several roles in their growing team this fall. They also welcome any new grocery partners. For more information contact them at dibbs.uiuc@gmail.com or follow them @dibbsonfood on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.