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Coordination is key to transferring existing food waste to hungry mouths.

Interviewed community stakeholders to understand why food is thrown out at the retail level. There's lots of space to improve the system!

Photo of Amanda Ussak
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There is plenty of healthy, unspoiled food that gets thrown away every day by restaurants, cafeterias, and grocery stores.  There are also plenty of community organizations like food pantries and meal delivery charities that need more donated food and have the capacity to intake this surplus.  Unfortunately these two groups are not connected efficiently.  Many community organizations lack the means to collect food and many retailers don't have the time or don't want the hassle of managing the delivery or pick up of this food.  

We talked with restaurant owners in Palo Alto, a Trader Joe's manager, Stanford university's food sustainability manager, and representatives from several food donation organizations.  The common thread was a desire to improve the situation but a breakdown in implementation due to coordination failure, cumbersome processes, and unreliability. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

How might we efficiently bring these groups together to minimize food waste and maximize people fed?

Tell us about your work experience:

I have experience in the public sector, designing social impact solutions, and a passion for good, healthy food!

8 comments

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Photo of Rodrigo Maia

Hello Amanda,
This is a good reference for this issue.
https://www.zeropercent.us/

Photo of Andrea Downey-Franchuk

Amanda, this is the first thing I thought of when I read the challenge question. I would love to collaborate on building a theoretical/conceptual supply chain....Put a framework together that could be repeated regardless of geographic location. Then kick the tires & pilot it out... 

Photo of Amanda Ussak

Andrea, that sounds great!  I worked on this topic as part of a class and we brainstormed a few supply chain ideas.  We were looking at hyper local interventions and this seemed to fit the problem.

Photo of Andrea Downey-Franchuk

Hi Amanda— can you explain "hyper local intervention"? If this idea goes further, I'd love to collaborate on gathering requirements, mapping process flows or project plan review! Cheers, ADF

Photo of Amanda Ussak

We were looking for local problems (could also be global problems that had local impact) that could be improved by a small-scale local intervention - something that could be piloted in one town without needing a full-scale overhaul of a larger ecosystem.  In this case, we looked at the problem of food waste in one town and how that particular town could reduce the food waste.  You can imagine (and I think you already have) how a solution to that problem could be easily replicated regardless of location.  

Photo of Andrea Downey-Franchuk

Are you at the pilot execution phase now? Or putting the current plan out for review/comment to a wider audience for feedback? The eventual deliverable could be a planning guide...

Photo of Amanda Ussak

No, I just carried the project through the need-finding stage.  I posted it here to share the insights and if it gathers interest, take it forward!

Photo of Andrea Downey-Franchuk

Ok, cool! Happy to help you.

Cheers! ADF