LeftoverSwap Is The Hot New App That Lets You Give Strangers Your Half-Eaten Sandwich

Yum? Health officials are a little concerned.

1. It’s 2013 and a hip new app is always around the corner, ready to give you something you didn’t know you needed.


2. With LeftoverSwap, that sweet convenience comes in the form of, say, some half-eaten General Tso’s chicken.


3. The creators of the app have lots of numbers ready to back up their new offering.

According to its website, LeftoverSwap says 40% of food is wasted, 25% of people don’t know their neighbors, 70% are overweight, 16% lack enough food for a healthy lifestyle, and 99% don’t need another helping of lo mein.

4. LeftoverSwap even includes a handy Ted talk on food waste to drive the point home.

View this embed ›

5. The app, which comes out later in August, will let you take a photo of your leftovers, post it, and then wait for someone nearby to call dibs — or even trade you the remains of their dinner.


6. “It’s obviously not for everybody,” LeftoverSwap co-founder Dan Newman told NPR. “But for as many people who seemingly have a problem with it, there’s people who love the idea.”

7. The app isn’t even out and already San Francisco officials are sounding health concerns:

In San Francisco, it’s illegal to sell food to the public without a permit, said Richard Lee, director of the Health Department’s environmental regulatory program, and it could result in expensive citations — potentially a couple thousand dollars, or three times the original permitting fee. It could also lead to a much stiffer crackdown than the ones on Uber and Lyft for operating without state-issued livery licenses. Leftover food is, in fact, a huge source of food-borne illnesses and other pestilence, Lee said. And in this case, there would be no way for officials to trace the source — they wouldn’t know who originally produced the food and under what conditions. Even if it came from the cleanest, best-inspected restaurant in San Francisco, it could still have been handled by some grubby hipster with no hygiene standards. The Health Department discourages homeless people from eating food left on top of garbage cans for those exact reasons.

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Adrian Carrasquillo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at

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