Launched in 2019 by Roza Ferdowsmakan, Bites aims to create resilient, sustainable, and local food communities by connecting individuals with local chefs for farm-to-table meals. Using the app, users can hire chefs to cook in-home or meal-prepped meals using ingredients that are sourced from local urban farms. This new initiative aims to create these same communities in a university setting.
Through the app, student eaters are able to hire student cooks of any skill level. It intends to provide the cooks with a flexible job and their peers with budget-friendly home-cooked meals. Both groups also have the option of using a built-in map to find and connect with urban farmers to purchase ingredients.
“All the funds from the app go back to the students and the school. Students and schools pay nothing to participate,” Ferdowsmakan tells Food Tank. For every meal, 80 percent goes to the chef and 3 percent goes to the payment processor. Bites donates the remaining 17 percent back to the school, in a designated account or department, “for the specific purpose of growing edible food gardens [on campus] for their students.”
Student representatives who are eager to bring Bites to their campuses can volunteer to work as the liaison between the app and their campus. Their role is to oversee that the proceeds go toward converting or expanding campus landscape into edible food gardens.
Ferdowsmakan also underscores the community-building aspect of the project. “From an evolutionary perspective, human beings have always connected most authentically, in the most real way, over shared meals,” Ferdowsmakan tells Food Tank. She hopes that the app will invoke a sense of a “mini cultural immersion” between students. “You can experience other cultures through their cuisines and their stories so when I say it’s communal, it really is, because the storytelling aspect of it is how we connect. We share who we are.”
Bringing Bites to universities is “about creating sustainable food ecosystems that bring a sense of community to the students,” Ferdowsmakan tells Food Tank. Her vision is to help students experience resilient and sustainable food systems and to “take those ideas and values into the world with them…and help create communities that are more sustainable.” The initiative will launch across at least a dozen university campuses in the United States in Fall of 2021.
Photo courtesy of Bites| Eat With Your Tribe