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Colorado Springs startup FoodMaven gets $383,000 state grant to expand

October 2, 2017 Updated: October 2, 2017 at 4:54 pm
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FoodMaven driver Jessica Underwood delivers hams to The Wild Goose Meeting House in Colorado Springs, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. The Colorado Springs-based startup company is a food broker between food distributors and restaurants to buy and sell surplus food. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Colorado Springs startup FoodMaven Corp. plans to expand from 33 employees to 200 in the next year after receiving a $383,000 grant in August from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The company plans to spend the money on a custom-made cooler and freezer for its new warehouse in northern Colorado Springs, three Ford Transit Connect delivery vans and marketing expenses that will help FoodMaven triple its customer base to more than 350 during the next year, said Megan Cornish, FoodMaven's vice president of government relations and industry affairs. While FoodMaven also is expanding in the Denver area, Cornish said all of the funding from the Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity grant must be spent in Colorado Springs.

"Food waste has been a hot topic in the industry. When we heard that 40 percent of the food that is produced is wasted, we wanted to address the issue head on. We saw promise in their (FoodMaven's) product and design," said Eric Heyboer, administrator of the recycling resources grant program.

The grant is the second and largest made by the program, which also funds recycling of a wide variety of materials, composting, anaerobic digestion and source reduction to reduce solid waste taken to Colorado landfills. The department awarded a $20,000 grant last year to Denver International Airport to reduce food waste at the airport.

FoodMaven plans to move into a warehouse next month near the former Post Time greyhound racing track off North Nevada Avenue that will quadruple its storage space and provide additional office space for the company, Cornish said. The company now uses a small amount of Care & Share Food Bank's warehouse near Powers Boulevard. The company's grant proposal, submitted in March, said the grant would help it divert more than 5,000 tons of food waste in Colorado Springs between July 2017 and June 2018, the period covered by the state grant.

A similar expansion is planned for the company's fledgling Denver operation beginning later this month, which FoodMaven expects will divert another 6,500 tons of food waste from landfills during the same period. Cornish said the FoodMaven hopes to double its Denver customer base by making a big splash at the Colorado Restaurant Show, Oct. 9-10 in Denver.

FoodMaven buys surplus food - mostly meat, produce, dairy and baked items - from grocery stores and distributors and sells it to restaurants, institutional kitchens and commercial food preparation businesses by acting as a middleman between buyers and sellers through its online marketplace and fleet of vans and trucks. The company plans to operate in up to 100 major cities within five years with further plans to grow to $1 billion in revenue and 8,000 employees, including 800-1,200 in Colorado Springs and Denver.

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Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234

Twitter @wayneheilman

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