It all started with a simple question: Why, when we live in a world with so much food waste, are people still going hungry? The more Jasmine Crowe thought about it, the more she wanted to know. Where was the food waste going? How much was there? Was there a way to divert it to the people who need it most? With $300 and a passion for making a difference, Jasmine set out to answer those questions.
Today, Jasmine is CEO and founder of Goodr, whose mission is to feed more and waste less. The organization equips businesses with technology that lets them track their food surplus and turn it into donations to feed their local communities. Since 2017, Goodr has gone on to divert almost 3 million pounds of food from landfills to people who need it. But with 72 billion pounds of food waste in the US each year and 42 million people experiencing food insecurity, Jasmine says they’re just getting started.
Here, she shares with Microsoft In Culture her story and vision for ending hunger worldwide.
Q: You’ve researched hunger extensively. What surprises you about it most?
While businesses throw away millions of dollars of good food every day, millions of people go hungry every night. If we could reduce food waste by just 15%, we would save enough food to feed 25 million hungry Americans every year. What we’re doing has always mattered, but during these times a veil has been lifted in America. We’ve all seen so many people in this country go hungry, but we’re also seeing more people than ever ready to change that.
Q: When do you first remember realizing that hunger was an issue people faced?
My dad always tells the story. I was seven years old, and the way he described it, we went to DC on vacation. They wanted to take me to see all the monuments and government and all that. I saw people who were living on the streets and I just couldn’t stop asking him: Why are they living there? What’s happening? I just wanted answers. I had all these questions, but he didn’t have the answer to why these men and women were homeless.
Q: You mention your dad. How did your upbringing and parents influence your journey?
Growing up in a military household and seeing my father’s acts of service made a big impact on me. My mom and dad always believed in treating others with dignity—and they still live it to this day. I vividly recall being with my dad when he was a Big Brother mentor, because he would take me along. I often felt like those young boys were my brothers, especially since I was an only child at the time. Seeing what it meant to them for my dad to step in like that has always stuck with me.
Q: What do you think people often misunderstand about hunger?
The reality is at any given time in America, one in six people are going hungry. We all as people have to understand that this could be somebody close to us.
Even though I saw my parents go to work every day, they still were struggling to make ends meet, especially as a young couple. And that has definitely given me a lot perspective on what life looks like for other people, seeing it and understanding that the struggle is real. No matter if they go to work every single day, people do struggle.
Q: How did you first decide to start feeding people on a large scale?
One day, I was driving through downtown Atlanta and I saw all these people who were homeless and on the streets. I still can’t quite explain how I felt in that moment, but I was like: “I’m going to go home. I’m going to come back and feed those people that I saw out on the streets.” And so, I did it.
About 20 people offered to volunteer with me to make a spaghetti dinner. When we served that first meal at an event called Sunday Soul, people were dancing. They were digging in. They were just happy. It made me feel so good to know that we were feeding them really well. I understood that by giving someone a meal, I could take them back to a better time. I could give them hope. Soon after, we introduced a restaurant experience for the hungry. The pop-up restaurant went viral, which was a testament to the fact that our idea was powerful and very much needed.
Q: How did that idea evolve into a movement and a mission for Goodr?
When I started Goodr, it was as a solo founder, which is mostly unheard of in the startup space. I had to ask myself, how do I scale? How can there be a Sunday Soul in every single city? I would read the statistics about how hard it is for women—and especially women of color—to get venture capital. But then I lived it myself. All I heard was things like: “I don’t understand how this is going to work. Who will be the customers? No one will pay for that.” I think I took about 200 meetings and heard about 200 nos. I still keep the check stub from our very first hundred-thousand-dollar payment. I remember I posted it on Instagram and wrote: “You know, no one will pay for that.”
What drove my self-belief is seeing companies that were already paying somebody on a monthly basis to take all this good food and throw it away—all while people were going hungry. Someone just had to step up and be there to make a difference.
This is my fight to win. I am hunger's most formidable opponent.Jasmine Crowe, CEO and founder, Goodr
People who are at risk from the pandemic, are experiencing economic difficulty, live in food deserts, or have been ordered to shelter in place and don’t have access to groceries generate an online request to Goodr for a food delivery.
Goodr uses technology, including Dell devices and Microsoft Dynamics 365, to match donated groceries with those online requests and organizes them into delivery units. Goodr then distributes the food through their pop up grocery stores or fulfillment centers.
Goodr drivers deliver food daily, using data transferred to their phone from fulfillment centers, to people who need the meals most.
Q: What’s next on the horizon for Goodr? What’s success for you?
Our goal now is to be worldwide. We’ve grown from our first Soul Sunday to operating in eight markets across the United States. Thanks to Dell, we’ve been able to scale with new devices and support from the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network. And working with Microsoft, we’ve rolled out a new app for our drivers, which creates a navigation system that allows them to deliver to as many as 10 houses in an hour. Also, data’s a big part of how we enable our restaurant and grocery partners. The Dynamics platform, paired with Power BI, helps me give feedback to partners and keep track of the massive amounts of food we’ve been able to keep out of landfills.
If we continue to scale to the point where Goodr can go out of business because everybody is being fed, then that’s a good thing for me. Because this is my fight to win. I am hunger’s most formidable opponent.