Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Monday, September 30, 2013

LeftoverSwap, Food Sharing App, Launches Despite Health Warnings

Posted By on Mon, Sep 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM

  • Flickr/Stef Noble

Despite protests from Health Department officials who fear an epidemic of food-borne illness, Seattle-based start-up LeftoverSwap launched its app last week, enabling consumers to sell leftover dinner to their neighbors. An iOS version of the app is now available for free on iTunes, and the first confirmed swaps happened in New York last week, when an enterprising vendor hawked his partly-eaten bag of Pop Chips to a hungry peer.

The following day, two San Francisco users documented another LeftoverSwap exchange -- coincidentally also involving a bag of Pop Chips.

San Francisco's Health Department has warned, repeatedly, that it's illegal to sell food without a permit, and that anyone who participates in this new sharing economy venture could incur expensive citations -- up to $2,000, or three times the original permitting fee, according to Richard Lee, director of the Health Department's environmental regulatory program. But given the hype over LeftoverSwap, Lee is beginning to look like a Cassandra. His warnings about hipster hygiene appear to be falling on deaf ears.

See Also: Bay Area Resident Puts Ad on Craigslist Looking for Someone to Eat His Leftover Pizza

Meanwhile, the app-makers say that insurance, which includes separate $1 million policies for personal, business, and advertising liability, accounts for the bulk of their expenditures. Theoretically that should gird the company from lawsuits if anyone gets sick, CEO Dan Newman says. "At least, that's what we pay for," he writes in a somewhat tentative e-mail. "I should probably just say 'yes.'"

Otherwise, LeftoverSwap is a fairly slim operation, bolstered by "the multitude of free services available to developers," and a $300 investment. Newman adds that with various potential revenue streams -- including per-transaction fees advertisements -- and the possibility of venture capital or grant funding down the line, the company may have a profitable future. It's at least promising enough for the CEO to lard his correspondences with appetizing puns.

"This is the 'lean' start-up philosophy," Newman cheerily continues, "although the food listed may not be."

  • Pin It

About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"