How many times have you gone to a restaurant and not been able to finish your whole meal? Or worse, taken home the leftovers only to throw them out after several days of them sitting untouched in the refrigerator?

Thankfully, there is a new social initiative offering a choice to restaurant-goers that provides two benefits: healthier meal portions while simultaneously reducing food waste to support the fight against hunger. While the United States is plagued with both obesity and hunger – Halfsies will now provide a new option of ordering half of a normal portion with the remaining value of the dish being put to better use.

Halfsies aims to reduce food waste while alleviating food insecurity and obesity in the United States. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)


About 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is thrown away. And the national food waste habit is growing: as a nation, we waste 50 percent more food today that we did in 1974. At the same time, portion sizes have grown considerably. In the 1970s, around 47 percent of Americans were overweight or obese; now 66 percent are considered overweight. And, at the same time, more than 50 million Americans are hungry.

With a tag line of “Eat Less, Give More,” Halfsies aims to not only fight world hunger, but also educate consumers on portion sizes, a problem that contributes to America’s growing obesity epidemic. The vision of this non-profit is to educate right where people live, eat and work. By offering a half-portion option in participating restaurants, customers are empowered to make a real difference, both in their own lives and in the lives of people in need.

When a consumer chooses to ‘go halfsies’ at a participating restaurant, he or she receives a half-portion of their meal while still paying full price. What restaurants don’t put on the table will be donated to both local (60 percent) and international non-profits (30 percent) to tackle hunger.  Halfsies will take 5 to 10 percent of the donations to cover overhead costs, and any remaining funds will be used for special projects that align with Halfsies’ mission and values such as emergency disaster relief, sustainable agriculture, and women’s rights.

Halfsies turns the simple act of going out to eat into a charitable giving opportunity. Started by four friends from Austin, Texas, Halfsies plans to kick off pilot programs in their hometown this spring and move into NYC later this year. They are also planning for a national launch in 2013. Halfsies is still working through the details with the restaurants, such as the software to be used for easy ordering and tracking and how different meals will be treated.

Through local and global initiatives, Halfies aims to see food waste in American cut in half, local poverty levels drop, and a significant impact made in the lives of people living with hunger and poverty, both in the United States and around the world. By creating a simple process, Halfsies gives restaurant-goers the opportunity to make an easy choice that benefits themselves, their community, and their world.

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Holly Tassi is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

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