I had the honor of representing Feeding America on the Innovator’s Panel at the launch of the ReFED’s Roadmap to Reduce Food Waste by 20%.
ReFED (Rethink Food Waste through Economics and Data) is the is a collaboration of over thirty business, nonprofit, foundation and government leaders committed to reducing United States food waste in the United States. Sharing the podium with entrepreneurs across the food industry engaged in innovative practices to reduce food waste was an appropriate place to publicly share Feeding America’s newest pilot technology platform and food recovery program for the retail, convenience and restaurant markets.
Online Marketplace is a scalable program that validates the finding of the ReFED Roadmap that ‘Donation Mapping Software’ is a top Recovery Solution to achieve the 20% reduction. Piloted in 2014 with a funding grant from Google.org, Online Marketplace provides a technology platform to recover, receipt and report any size donation of perishable food by connecting donor locations with food banks, food pantries or soup kitchens in the same community.
While the Feeding America food bank network recovers 2.6 billion pounds of safe, edible food from all points of the food industry every year to help feed 46 million Americans, still over 63 million tons goes to waste in the US each year. After in-home consumer waste, the largest portion of this (25 million tons) is from restaurants and food service locations.
Today, the Online Marketplace pilot has recovered over 90 million pounds of food from retail food outlets. More importantly, Online Marketplace is also creating a donation process from donor to distribution that ensures all of the nutritious but perishable food is picked up on a timely basis and handled safely, protecting both donor and the people served by the Feeding America network.
ReFED’s vision of the most effective matching software, however, is for a technology that is accessible to any donor not just an established donor network. I was happy to announce that with the continued funding from Google.org, enhancements to Online Marketplace going live this fall will allow any donation within the expanded geography to be matched with a vetted agency partner for pickup.
As ReFED launches their game-changing Roadmap to Reduce US Food Waste by 20%, Feeding America is positioned well to help lead wasted food recovery through donation by implementing innovative practices for measurable impact to support the goal. By year end, the goal is to almost double the geography in which it is available which will also double the volume accessed from food service outlets.
For the full ReFED Roadmap please see www.refed.com.
Karen Hanner is managing director of manufacturing product sourcing at Feeding America. Interested in becoming a company that gives product to Feeding America?