Going “Halfsies” Could Curb American Obesity and Feed the Hungry at the Same Time

Would you pay full price for a half portion in a restaurant, if the remainder were donated to fight poverty and hunger issues? Will other Americans? This is the vision of Austin, TX start-up Halfsies.

No Food Waste Zone

It’s the day after the National Holiday of Hallmark Love. Perhaps you, like millions of Americans, overindulged on a nicer-than-usual restaurant dinner. Were your eyes bigger than your stomach? Or did you just pack it all in to the point of discomfort (and less amorous energy)?

About 40% of the food produced in the U.S. isn’t consumed. It’s wasted. This percentage has grown over recent decades as our portion sizes have continued to creep upwards. At the same time, many of us are eating plenty, as obesity rates can attest to. So the fact that 50 million Americans still face food insecurity seems a cruel contradiction to logic. We’ve heard it all before. What’s the solution?

According to Paula Minahan in the article, “Food Waste in America: A Growing Concern,” the amount of food required to eliminate hunger in the U.S. is only 5 billion pounds annually. The USDA says that if a mere 5 percent of food scraps were recovered, it would equal a day’s worth of food for 4 million people; recovery of 25 percent would feed 20 million.

We have to go right to the source of food waste in order to eliminate it. 

That’s why Austin, TX-based start-up Halfsies is partnering with restaurants (major food waste culprits) to offer diners an option that reduces portion sizes, eliminates food waste, and funds organizations that fight food insecurity worldwide. Restaurants add a Halfsies logo beside specific menu items to signify they can be ordered as half portions, with remaining proceeds donated (60% locally and 30% internationally). The initiative will start locally with Austin restaurants and expand to NYC and then other cities in the coming year.

The Halfsies model may be a hard sell to diners used to leftovers or ordering with value in mind, but it’s certainly a move in the right direction. For restaurants, there is no loss of revenue or additional food costs; plus it offers the establishments a chance to brand themselves as conscious and engaged. For consumers, it’s a way to reinforce healthy eating habits and normalize smaller portion sizes.

Image Credit: Flickr – dinnerseries

Written by Amanda Buhman


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  1. As someone who always, always finishes his plate, I’m wondering if restaurants would be willing to accept donations to the Halfsies program but still serve me up a full order.

  2. I love eating out but have always hated the waste and I’m not into leftovers. I often order and opt out instead of substituting the items I don’t want even if its the same price. The portions are insane in America and most places I can just order sides and still have plenty.

    I think it’s a great idea!

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