The Food Waste Solutions Summit, hosted by ReFED, brought together food waste experts, policymakers, and innovators in a collective effort to address the pressing issue of food waste. The summit emphasized that food waste is a solvable problem and highlighted various business stakeholders and solutions aimed at reducing food loss and waste.
Dana Gunders, Executive Director at ReFED, called for a broader perspective and greater progress in combating food waste. She outlined five key action steps: scaling pilot programs, harnessing collective intelligence, improving measurement and industry benchmarking, fostering radical collaboration, and confronting barriers. Gunders urged attendees to become active contributors to the solution, emphasizing the magnitude of the food loss and waste problem.
The summit covered a wide range of topics, including technological innovations disrupting food waste and avenues for financing solutions. It also showcased ReFED's tools, such as the Catalytic Grant Fund, Capital Tracker, and Insights Engine, which monitor food loss and waste in the United States and highlight potential solutions.
Alexandria Coari, Vice President of Capital, Innovation, and Engagement at ReFED, highlighted important observations from the Capital Tracker tool. She noted that philanthropic funding in the food waste space has more than doubled since 2016, and private investments have increased more than seven-fold in the same period. Coari also acknowledged the significant impact of food waste on greenhouse gas emissions and emphasized the need for increased funding to match the scale of the problem.
Ida Posner, a Strategic Advisor at the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh, emphasized the role of philanthropy in funding food waste solutions, particularly those that may not attract traditional funding sources. Posner encouraged funders to view risks as opportunities and emphasized the power of storytelling in engaging people with the cause.
Storytelling emerged as a central theme throughout the summit, with speakers emphasizing its importance in connecting food loss and waste with issues of justice. Stephen Satterfield, Founder and CEO of Whetstone Media, underscored the significance of narrative in understanding the origins of food waste and its links to historical inequities. He urged attendees to critically examine the inherited food system and emphasized the transformative power of storytelling.
The summit identified a shift in the field of waste reduction, with ReFED highlighting the importance and potential of investing in food waste solutions. Despite current geopolitical and economic challenges, the summit highlighted the promising momentum and clear need for investment in this sector, making it an exciting and crucial time to address food waste.