Instead of proceeding to a food bank, the person can text the word “HUNGRY” to Bento, choose a nearby restaurant or supermarket, select a meal and pick it up
Spotted: Californian tech incubator Not Impossible Labs, a startup dedicated to solution-focussed technologies for society, has most recently created the Bento app, a text-based system that allows people to order a meal if they can’t afford to buy food for themselves. “Food insecurity is the poster child of what we refer to as an absurdity,” explained COO and Co-founder Adam Dole. “There’s 50 million people in our country that don’t know where their next meal is coming from. And yet, we’re the wealthiest country in the world.”
Instead of proceeding to a food bank, the person can text the word “HUNGRY” to Bento, choose a nearby restaurant or supermarket, select a meal and pick it up. Users are enrolled using databases from nonprofits and government agencies. The system allows people that can’t afford food to secure breakfast, lunch, and dinner for as long as they need.
For restaurants, being part of Bento doesn’t incur any operating changes. Bento’s process is integrated with the food provider’s normal ordering systems. This also relieves people of any stigma attached to going to a food bank. Ebelingh believes that through using the app people can preserve their dignity and not be outcasted.
A year in operation, Bento is working with Genpact, a professional services firm to improve their user experience through data-driven insights and analytics.
At Springwise, we are seeing an array of technological devlopments coming to the fore as a means of fighting social inequalities such as an app that connects donors to the homeless through digital donations and a self-cleaning hoodie for those who lack access to washing facilities in order to stay clean for longer periods.
Written By: Katrina Lane