It started with a simple question. As a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012, Raj Karmani, the founder of Zero Percent, was a regular at a neighborhood bakery. The store was always fully stocked with more than a dozen different bagel flavors, and that got Karmani thinking.
“I wondered, ‘When all those beautiful bagels are made fresh each day, what happens to the ones that don’t sell?’” So Karmani asked the bakery’s owner, and learned that he did his best to donate what he could to area nonprofits. Still, many of those bagels were thrown out at closing time. Karmani vowed to change that.
Since its launch in 2013, Zero Percent has distributed more than 1 million meals to almost 150 nonprofits.