Taiwanese-Australian Donny Chien has developed an app to stop food wastage and to assist those among us who need a helping hand.
More than five million Australians experience food insecurity over a 12-month period, according to hunger-relief organisation Foodbank.
It comes despite research from the group that one-third of the food prepared in Australia is wasted because it’s simply not sold.
These are problems that Sydneysider Donny Chien is attempting to solve with the help of technology.
The self-confessed “hater of food waste” is the co-founder of Y-Waste, an app established in 2017 connecting people experiencing food insecurity with shops, who would otherwise throw the food away when it’s not sold.
Y-Waste targets food at the retail level by helping outlets reduce the amount of unsold food that gets wasted.
The retailers can advertise their leftover food on the app, which can be ordered and purchased by members of the public at a cheaper rate.
Food outlets, food suppliers and food producers can also donate their excess food directly to the recipient by bringing them into the shops to pick up the donated food.
Donny says the inspiration for the app came after hearing stories of hunger and food shortage in Taiwan from his parents.
“My parents were born in the 1940s during the Second World War," he says. "They grew up in a very difficult circumstance and experienced hunger. So we were all taught that food should not be wasted.”
Donny was born in Taiwan and after the family immigrated to Australia, he realised the problem of food wastage was more widespread than he first anticipated.
Since its establishment, Y-Waste has formed links with shops, academic institutions, government agencies and charities.
The app also encourages users to help the environment by bringing in their own environmentally friendly tableware to collect the food.
Donny says the reception for the app has been mostly positive and recalls an episode when a teenager relayed back to him that he was able to buy a lot of pie at a nearby bakery at a significantly reduced price.
“One year ago, a local young man told us that his family was in a poor financial condition and he was almost homeless. With Y-Waste, he could get six or seven pies from a bakery. He was really grateful that Y-Waste had saved him.
“I feel a sense of accomplishment that we can help those in need.”
Donny says many difficulties and challenges were encountered during the platform's startup, including receiving some negative reviews from Chinese restaurants.
He says the negative responses wouldn't go to his heart and he urged the Chinese community to take a broader view of new technology and ideas to understand the scope of the problem.
“Some people in our community think we just persuade them to sell things at a cheaper price.
"Certain Chinese business owners aren’t as open to new ideas but I understand this is new for them and I hope they can look at the bigger picture and try to accept new technology instead of rejecting it."
Y-Waste has already set foot in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Singapore.
Donny's dream is to introduce the app in Taiwan and Japan, two lands he is deeply connected to.
Recently, he added a Chinese interface to the app to facilitate greater use within the Chinese community.