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This Woman Created an App to End Hunger in America

komal ahmad copia

"It shouldn't be this hard to do the right thing."

That's what Komal Ahmad said after offering to buy lunch for a homeless veteran while she was an undergraduate at University of California Berkeley. The encounter allowed her to compare two stark realities: just across the street the university was throwing away thousands of pounds of food while the veteran sitting across from her was having his first meal in three days.

What became a mission to feed the hungry with the university’s leftovers blossomed into an app to end hunger in America.

Today, Ahmad is the founder and CEO of Copia, an app that she describes as "an Uber for food-recovery," matching non-profits serving veterans, children, women, and those in need to companies with leftover gourmet food. This past Super Bowl weekend, Copia organized numerous pickups of food throughout the San Francisco Bay Area that ended up feeding more than 41,000 people. 

"It is the sexiest thing that you could solve instantly," she said in an interview later adding, "We use technology to optimize every other portion of our life, why can't we use it to optimize the most unnecessary problem of our time?"

Toyota named Ahmad one of the company's 2016 "Mothers of Invention," a title that comes with a $50,000 grant to bolster Copia's services around the country. And government officials from Germany and Austria have expressed interest in expanding the service to assist with feeding Syrian refugees.

"Now you can also do something really instantly that is good for your company, that is good for your company's brand, that is good for the community, that is good for your bottom line and that makes you feel good too," Ahmad said. "Everyone wins."

To learn more about Copia and how their pick-up service works visit their website here.

NEXT: You Don't Understand Poverty »

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Photo Credit: Facebook