Top apps from this year’s IGNITE | SCALE | SAN DIEGO smart city challenge competition are on the road to commercialization, and we caught up recently with the leaders of FreshStart to hear how their award-winning project is progressing.

Read on for details about how FreshStart is making the most of its boost from Ignite Scale San Diego as part of the Smart Gigabit Communities (SGC) program. Many thanks to supporting partner Cox Communications for its support of IGNITE | SCALE | SAN DIEGO and its projects like FreshStart.


FreshStart is on a mission to redirect surplus food from restaurants to hungry people in need. Because prepared food has to be moved quickly so it doesn’t spoil, the FreshStart team has designed an app to connect food pickup requests directly with the Postmates delivery service for transport to local food banks. Today, the folks from FreshStart call restaurants in their area each day to see if they have food to deliver, but the goal is to get their app directly into restaurant owners’ hands. The team is currently running a beta test with one restaurant in Balboa Park, and it is coordinating with food bank staff to match up with other fresh rescue partners.

FreshStart works with local San Diego food banks

To make the app sustainable, in the future, FreshStart proposes to monetize it by charging restaurants a subscription fee to use the app. Because new California law offers significant tax incentives for food recovery, FreshStart expects the cost to restaurants to be easily recouped through tax savings. Plus, participating restaurants will know they’re giving something back to the community, and that they’re doing it in a way that doesn’t require the hassle of managing new daily deliveries.

The benefit of creating an app for food recovery is its potential for scale. With the right partners, FreshStart hopes to create a widespread system for ensuring that when food is available, it gets delivered to the people that need it most. That’s also a goal for San Diego. San Diego County estimates that up to one in seven residents experiences food insecurity annually. FreshStart has the potential to make a positive impact on the community, and to reduce food insecurity with resources that already exist.