Giving Back

An App for Leftovers

An app created for the Superbowl tallies up the wins made by food recovery efforts.


The public-transit system may not have been prepared for the hordes of football fans heading to New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 — as was widely reported — but the venue’s food vendors were. At the end of the game, as 83,000 spectators exited the stadium, plenty of food was left over — all of which was recovered by hunger think tank Rock and Wrap It Up! (RWU) and delivered to six anti-poverty/hunger agencies in New York and New Jersey.

In total, 31,487 pounds of food were recovered by RWU at this year’s NFL-sanctioned Super Bowl events, translating into 24,220 meals served. Had that leftover food wound up in a landfill, 25,190 pounds of CO2 and 22,671 pounds of methane would have been released into the atmosphere.

These impressive numbers were surprisingly easy to arrive at, thanks to the Rock and Wrap It Up Whole Earth Calculator, a new mobile app that helps identify and socially share food donations made, along with their corresponding environmental benefits. Created specifically for this year’s Super Bowl by Meeting U. President James Spellos, CMP, RWU founder Syd Mandelbaum, and event-technology company Event-Mob i, the Whole Earth Calculator is not a downloadable tool but a non-native, web-based app. Once the number of pounds of food is entered into the app, it calculates the meal and greenhouse-gas conversions based on U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency standards.

As for the sharing element, Spellos said, “the person who is doing the pickup enters the name of the organization that is donating the food, and the tweet goes out automatically with their name, to thank them, as well as putting into the tweet the appropriate hashtags so that it goes out [in a socially shareable way].”

Spellos, who has been lending his technological expertise to RWU on a voluntary basis for about a dozen years, said he was looking at RWU spreadsheets in November that were filled with data — number of pounds of food donations, how many people that fed, and greenhouse-gas-prevention figures. “It was amazing stuff,” Spellos said. When Mandelbaum told him that RWU had been named the sole food-recovery agency for all of this year’s Super Bowl events, “Syd and I looked at each other and said, ‘This would be a cool app.’”

Spellos shopped the idea around, and EventMobi jumped on it. “All the credit goes to Syd for his genius,” Spellos said, “and to EventMobi for donating the time and effort to produce the Whole Earth Calculator.”

While the app was created for this one event, it’s meant to “have legs,” Spellos said. His vision is for “meeting professionals and hotels to be able to create that level of awareness and understand the positive environmental benefits of food recovery.”

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.