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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Diners in Austin, NYC Going Halfsies to Address Obesity, Food Waste, Hunger

Controlling the size of your portions is a great way to save money, food and unnecessary health problems caused by obesity. Eating out, on the other hand, takes that control away from you — unless you go for a restaurant that’s signed up for Halfsies. Launched at the end of 2012 in Texas and New York, it’s an initiative that lets you donate half of your food before it even gets to the table. Apart from the warm, fuzzy feeling you'll get from giving, your waistline will be thankful as well.

Here’s how the idea works: Diners still pay full price for a meal but receive half of the portion size instead — while the other half goes off to people in need throughout the city. Unless you use a doggie bag every time (and finish the leftovers within a few days), it’s pretty clear that the other half of your meal is going to be put to better use.


The proceeds from Halfsies are split between local (60 percent) and international nonprofits (30 percent) that tackle hunger, with 10 percent of the donations going towards the operating costs of the company.

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Aside from the obvious health benefits of eating half as much food when you’re in a restaurant and sharing your meals with those who cannot afford their own, the implications for the staggering amounts of food wasted by restaurants are considerable.

“It’s a win-win-win. Plus, it is an ongoing choice, not just something available one day or a week out of the year. It is sustainable,” Sydney Berry Ling, co-founder and Communications Director tells

If you live in New York or Austin, track down restaurants that are signed up to Halfsies and eat there once in a while. If you can’t find any, then get in touch with the organization to find out more, or better yet — encourage them to expand the scheme in your local area.

A similar initiative is underway in Phoenix: FlashFood — a mobile app developed by four Arizona State University students — allows restaurants, caterers and conventions to notify the FlashFood network about excess food; a team then picks up and delivers the items to community centers for immediate distribution to local residents.

This post first appeared on PSFK on September 2, 2014.


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