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A new plan to fix a big problem.

February 03, 2017

More than 48 million Americans struggle to get enough to eat. Could the US Postal Service deliver relief? That's the plan proposed by graduate students at Washington University in St. Louis.

As The Guardian reports, the students are trying to solve a problem that many other startups have tried to tackle. Food banks across the country work by rescuing unwanted food, but moving the food around and storing it is costly.

The plan, called First Class Meal, is to use dormant Postal Service infrastructure to get food to the needy. Grocery stores with surplus perishible foods would schedule pickups using an app, and refrigerated USPS trucks would deliver the donations to hunger-relief organizations in the area. The USPS has shuttered 17 percent of its offices since 1971 due to the rise of digital communications, and some of this this unused space could be transformed into storage or markets to support the program.

First Class Meal has received $7,500 of funding and wants to pilot the program in Los Angeles County, the most food-insecure county in the country with 1.5 million food insecure people.

“It’s just ridiculous in a country that is as resource-rich as we are,” says 30-year-old Anu Samarajiva, a student on the First Class Meal proposal team. “The issue isn’t a lack of food or a lack of resources, but of distribution, pickup and logistics.”