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Announcing our Cross-Pollinators for the Food Waste Challenge

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We’re excited to introduce you to Swapna Bellare, Jake Schual-Berke and Kate Rushton, our Community Cross-Pollinators for the Food Waste Challenge. They’ll be working with the OpenIDEO team to build connections and facilitate conversations between like-minded people in our global community. In the upcoming weeks, Swapna, Jake, and Kate will also be working to strengthen collaborations in the Inspiration and Ideas phases of this challenge.

From Left: Swapna Bellare, Jake Schual-Berke, and Kate Rushton

Swapna Bellare is a Consumer Insights and User Experience Researcher in Austin, Texas. She’s an advocate of using human-centered design to create innovative solutions for simplifying people’s lives. Swapna was also a Top Idea Winner from OpenIDEO’s Healthy Lives Challenge.

Jake Schual-Berke is currently the Field Operations Manager at NexLeaf Analytics where he is in charge of collecting data to improve the adoption of clean cookstoves in India. Jake’s previous nonprofit, SunSaluter, was named as a Top Idea Winner from the OpenIDEO Renewable Energy Challenge.

Kate Rushton is an analyst/writer based out of London, England. She has over five years of experience covering the energy sector. She is an innovation strategy practitioner who has been making insightful contributions in multiple OpenIDEO Challenges.


Tell us about a meaningful connection you’ve made on OpenIDEO

Jake: OpenIDEO has been a wonderful place to meet and engage in thoughtful discussion with like-minded innovators from around the world. So far, my connections on OpenIDEO have led to funding for my previous organization and an article publication!


Swapna: I was fortunate to meet talented mentors like Shane Zhao and Justin Bean, who helped me to get a deep understanding of design thinking and app development. With help of Allen A's suggestions, I was able to constantly improvise on the healthy lives challenge.


Kate: When I was competing in the Healthy Lives Challenge, I posted an idea based around motivating the community to eat healthier food through a competition-based app. One user ( Allen A) regularly posted suggestions, encouragement and new perspectives. This really motivated me and inspired me to continue developing the idea. I think the fact that someone who did not know me really liked my idea gave me a lot of confidence because I felt that his thoughts and opinions were completely objective.    


In this challenge, why will building connections between community members be important?

Kate: Connections will be key to being able to rapidly refine and prototype the challenge ideas and create and spread the stories around food waste that resonate with people and inspire them to act.


Swapna: I firmly believe in Aristotle's quote -- "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts," which in OpenIDEO Challenges can be interpreted as the overall outcome is outstanding when people work in synergy versus working alone. Thus, by collaboration we are aiming to move mountains and bring a change in people's lives!


Jake: There's no I in innovation... well, there is, but it's still a team sport. To transform a good idea into real social impact, one must speak with the gamut of community members to validate assumptions, test prototypes, and learn crazy, ridiculous, totally unexpected facts that completely change one's approach. Food waste is an issue that involves a diverse supply chain of producers, distributors, consumers, technologists, and policy makers, so it will be critical for us all to share our unique perspectives.


What's one thing you're hoping to see in this challenge?

Swapna: I am hoping that ideators get inspired and create solutions or systems that not only reduce food waste but also address world hunger issue.


Jake:  I'm hoping to see a lot of synergy between contributions that are coming at the issue of food waste from different angles. I'd love to see teams join forces and become even stronger. Hopefully I can do my part as a cross-pollinator to facilitate those interactions!


Kate: I would really like to see a range of ideas that embrace both low and high tech solutions and cater for different people all around the world. We all have unique perspectives and experiences and the key is to come up with and develop ideas that empower as many people as possible.  


Join Kate, Jake, Swapna and the rest of the OpenIDEO community in the Food Waste Challenge.

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Photo of Swapna Bellare

Thanks for the opportunity! it's always a pleasure.

Photo of Emily Gaddis

Thank you for bringing up the issue of world hunger. When we talk about food waste we fail to properly emphasize that reducing food waste only by 25% could potentially eliminate hunger. I am curious if you see ending food waste as an interdisciplinary strategy to solve the issue of world hunger. That is how I see it.

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There are so many good ideas posted on the Food Waste Challenge. It's inspiring to see so many different solutions to the many facets of the food waste and food loss problem.

Photo of Heatherlee Nguyen (Open IDEO Twin Cities)

I love this cross-pollination concept! Thank you OpenIDEO for continuing to support new ways of collaborating :) MSP OpenIDEO is looking forward to contributing to this one.