Plano teens develop software to reduce food waste by pairing restaurants with food banks

Trefos students at a local restaurant. Photo provided by Trefos.

When four Plano East Senior High School students learned that one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, they sought to create change not just in Plano, but across the region, country and globe.

“Back in ninth grade, we were doing what most people were doing at the time – calling restaurants near us and asking if they had leftover food and then finding nonprofits that take in that sort of food,” Bhalala said. “We built a lot of connections doing this until COVID hit and a lot of restaurants were shutting down. That’s why we made the website.”

Jay Bhalala, Jeremy Chuah, Emmanuel Tawiah and Nikhil Jain put their love of computer science into practice and created a website that pairs restaurants with food banks.

Users can go to trefos.me and view a map of all registered restaurants and how many pounds of food are available for pickup from each restaurant. Each type of food is labeled with how much it weighs, how old it is and how many days it is available to pick up, along with contact information for each website.

Currently, Trefos has restaurants registered from around the metroplex and beyond, as well as area nonprofits that bring the food to food banks and soup kitchens.

“We just really want to help people, especially homeless people that don’t have access to food,” said Bhalala. “It’s pretty messed up that all those homeless people are on the street with no food while all these restaurants are throwing away tons of food every day.”

The Trefos group is still looking for more restaurants and volunteers to register for their site. Volunteers are not limited to nonprofit employees – those in high school groups like National Honor Society looking for volunteer hours or others looking to help reduce food waste can also sign up.

“We aren’t sure where we’re going to go for college yet because senior year just started, but the most likely case is that we’re probably all going to go different ways,” Chuah said. “We’re probably still going to continue doing it, which will be good for our website because we’re going to be in different locations and make connections in different areas of really any part of the U.S. and not just Plano.”

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3 Comments

  1. says: Chandra

    It’s incredible! If there’s any need for additional volunteers to help with this project, my son would love to be a part of and help.

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