IMPACT
06/30/2016 01:40 pm ET Updated Jul 06, 2016

Google, Airbnb, Other Tech Giants Waste Tons Of Food. This Group Rescues It

Because crab artichoke ravioli really shouldn't go to waste.
Cupcakes are arranged against a wall in the cafeteria at Google's newest data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Thursday, Oct.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Cupcakes are arranged against a wall in the cafeteria at Google's newest data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company held an open house Thursday afternoon to show off its second data center in Council Bluffs — just across the Missouri River from Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

While getting free lobster, Sriracha vanilla yogurt and crab artichoke ravioli at work may boost collaboration among employees, it also generates an unwanted byproduct ― plenty of food waste

In Silicon Valley, where booming tech companies provide ample amounts of gratis grub, having hordes of perfectly edible leftovers has become the norm.

Many of these companies, though, won’t send the uneaten fare to the trash. A number of them have partnered with Food Runners, a local nonprofit that picks up food from companies and distributes it to people in need.

And the need in San Francisco is “tremendous,” according to L’Ann Bingham, Food Runners community relations representative. There, one in seven people struggles with hunger, according to Feeding America. 

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The partnership between Food Runners and area tech companies is so strong that they provide about half of the goods Food Runners retrieves, BuzzFeed reported last year. The group delivers 5,000 meals a week, Bingham told The Huffington Post.

The nonprofit collects food from 500 companies. Google, where employees are never more than 200 feet away from free food, is one of the biggest donors. Other participating tech companies include Twitter, LinkedIn and Craigslist, Bingham added.

The group picks up breakfast and lunch food and the “runners” immediately deliver it to the recipients. The meals are typically at their expiration date and the organization doesn’t store anything, Bingham said.

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 22: Healthy snack jars, in the 4th floor cafeteria at Google's headquarters in Manhattan, NY, on August
The Washington Post via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 22: Healthy snack jars, in the 4th floor cafeteria at Google's headquarters in Manhattan, NY, on August 22, 2013. (Photo by Yana Paskova/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Airbnb, which also offers three meals a day to its employees, has made a concerted effort to be transparent and efficient with its food donations.

According to BuzzFeed, the company hired Food Shift, a nonprofit that fights hunger, to manage its recovery efforts. At the end of its annual company benefit in 2014, for example, Airbnb had 1,855 pounds of extra food. 

Airbnb is also involved with Food Runners, and donates to the group regularly. Rafael Monfort, Airbnb sous chef, told CNBC that the company works with “really reliable farmers” who give the company “some of the best products.”

Food Runners distributes food to about 300 organizations in San Francisco, which include Warden House, a group that supports people with HIV and addiction problems, and Sala Burton Manor, a residential building for low income seniors and people with disabilities. 

Recipients are usually pretty pumped when they see the Food Runners truck approaching.

“They’re excited to see us coming,” Bingham told CNBC. “They’ll typically know they’re going to eat well tonight.”

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BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Food Waste: What You Can Do
CONVERSATIONS