Student-developed app aims to reduce food waste at grocery stores

The five founders of FreshSpire, including NC State student Shraddha Rathod on the far left.
The five founders of FreshSpire, including NC State student Shraddha Rathod on the far left.

What if there was an app that notified you when local grocery stores discounted prices on near expiring produce that was about to be discarded?

That’s how the collegiate founders of FreshSpire want to reduce food waste in the United States, where up to 40 percent of food goes from farms to landfills without feeding anyone in between. One major place of food waste is at grocery stores, which on average discard $2,300 daily of produce that is near or at expiration date.

“The idea for FreshSpire is to break this recurring cycle and end its harmful impacts on our state and its residents by promoting a system that will benefit all parties,” said Shraddha Rathod, a first-year NC State student who is one of the co-founders of FreshSpire.

FreshSpire is an app designed to increase communication between grocery stores and consumers to ultimately discourage food waste and encourage customers to purchase produce at a lower cost. Mobile users can sign up to receive text or app alerts when markdowns are made at local grocery stores.

“FreshSpire’s service promotes both healthy eating and food waste reduction,” Rathod said. “We hope that FreshSpire can encourage a more sustainable and nutritious life.”

The app also includes an expiration date calendar through which consumers can track their purchases to ensure food in their refrigerator is eaten before expiration.

Rathod is one of five FreshSpire co-founders who developed the idea while students at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Wanting to provide a “fresh” perspective in the food distribution process and “inspire” grocery stores to reduce food waste, FreshSpire has already earned national recognition at the Clinton Global Initiative and in the MSNBC Growing Hope Challenge. Plus, it took first place in the Verizon Student Innovator Challenge at NC State’s LuLu eGames start-up competition.

Now, though all five founders study at different universities, the mission of FreshSpire continues.

“Food insecurity is a large issue in the world, and this social mission is the soul of our company. Any move we make, we make sure we follow it,” Rathod said.