Tag Archives: USDA

App of the Week – mRelief

mReliefWhy, in the richest country on earth, are people still going hungry? According to Feeding America 25 – 40 percent of food grown, processed and transported in the U.S. will never be eaten. This food is often thrown out as leftovers or destroyed because it is simply not pretty enough for the grocery store.  That is why mRelief is the App of the Week.

First of all mRelief is not exactly an app. It is a new web and text messaging tool for low-income families. The service helps low income families to easily locate where and when they can receive free or discounted meals this summer for their children. According to mRelief 22 million children in the U.S. receive free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches during the school year. But during the summer, four out of five of those same children can no longer count on a meal every day. So mRelief helps families not only find where to get free or reduced price meals but also help them locate food banks and determine their eligibility for food and nutrition assistance programs even if you don’t have children.

According to USDA statistics $11 billion in food stamps went unclaimed simply because people who are eligible either didn’t know or didn’t have access to applications. mRelief provides low-income people with the help they need to figure out if they qualify for programs like food stamps and much-needed social services.

mRelief was launched in September 2014 and has helped 30,000 families locate the social services they qualify for. mRelief is looking to the future with plans to help people determine the documents they need as well as submitting those documents.

The mRelief website is fairly straight forward. All the user needs to do is enter their zip code and the type of assistance they need. But the user can also find help with a variety of other needs that include;

  • Cash
  • Child Wellness
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Food
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Veterans assistance

Those without access to the internet can text their zip code to 1-844-877-6111. mRelief is currently available in 42 states.


App of the Week – USDA FoodKeeper

foodkeeper-logoIf you don’t know by now most expiration dates on food is inaccurate and misleads you into spending more money by throwing out perfectly good food. That’s why USDA FoodKeeper is the App of the Week.

The USDA has decided to do something about this problem by making it easier to research the real expiration date for food. The government FoodKeeper app allows you research food expiration dates based on how they’re stored not who sold it to you. The food item can be researched directly or you can check general categories. The app also gives you general cooking information and send you reminders when food goes bad.

For many people this app can save big money at the grocery store. The Natural Resources Defense Council issued a report saying that Americans are prematurely throwing out food, largely because of confusion over what expiration dates actually mean.

Experts suggest consumers need to re-educate themselves to exactly what food dating mean by understanding the definitions. Here is what you need to know.

  • Use by and Best by – These dates are intended for consumer. They are typically the date the manufacturer deems the product reaches peak freshness. It’s not a date to indicate spoilage, nor does it necessarily signal that the food is no longer safe to eat.
  • Sell by –This date was never intended to be used by the consumer. It is only intended to help manufacturers and retailers. It’s a stocking and marketing tool provided by food makers to ensure proper turnover of the products in the store so they still have a long shelf life after consumers buy them. Consumers, however, are misinterpreting it as a date to guide their buying decisions. The report authors say that “sell by” dates should be made invisible to the consumer.

Many consumers believe expiration dates on food indicate how safe the food is to consume. That’s not true. The dates found on packages aren’t actually related to the risk of food poisoning or foodborne illness.

According research words like “use by” and “sell by” are used so inconsistently that they contribute to widespread misinterpretation, and waste, by consumers. Ninety percent of Americans throw out food prematurely and 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is thrown out every year because of food dating. Food dating was never about public health.

Currently there is no federal regulation that governs food dating except for infant baby formula because its nutrients lose their potency over time. Although, technically, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture  do have regulatory power over the mis-branding of products.

FoodKeeper is available for Apple and Android devices.