Ted Monk, Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility for Sodexo North America, is speaking at the third annual D.C. Food Tank Summit, Let’s Build a Better Food Policy, which will be hosted in partnership with George Washington University and the World Resources Institute on February 2, 2017.
As the Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility for Sodexo North America, Ted Monk oversees Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 commitments, which address issues surrounding health and wellness, sustainable sourcing, water waste, and energy management. Prior to assuming this role, Mr. Monk has more than 25 years of experience in operations in corporate services, health care, and education. Currently, Mr. Monk is the Board Chair for the Alameda County Community Food Bank and sits on the board of Open Heart Kitchen.
Food Tank had the chance to speak with Mr. Monk about his desire to end hunger and food waste, and about those who have inspired him to work towards those goals.
Food Tank (FT): What originally inspired you to get involved in your work?
Ted Monk (TM): The social justice aspect of hunger in our communities was my original motivation. The fact there is so much food wasted, while at the same time, there are so many hungry people. Lack of food should not limit a person’s potential and ability.
FT: What makes you continue to want to be involved in this kind of work?
TM: I am still driven by the desire to end hunger. But in my role, I can also make a difference on a broader stage. I can help to educate a much wider audience, both inside and outside of Sodexo, on the work which needs to be done to improve Quality of Life, strengthen our communities, and protect the environment.
FT: Who inspired you as a kid?
TM: My mum. We did not grow up with much, but we always had food which was fresh, wholesome, and home-cooked. When I look back, nothing was wasted because she knew how to budget, how to plan what we would eat based upon availability, and how to “stretch” ingredients. We grew vegetables and I can remember that connection of planting, nurturing and harvesting.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
TM: We have to find a way to feed an ever-increasing population with food which is healthier, while improving animal welfare and protecting the environment. I do believe it is possible, but it will take significant changes in the supply chain, and the food may cost more money. We either pay more for it at the front end, or we pay through health care costs in the future.
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero who inspired you?
TM: Steve Brady started the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation ten years ago. It was a group of employees on a walk in Boston to raise funds for hunger relief. Since that time, the Foundation has distributed US$20 million to organizations and individuals who work to end childhood hunger. He also had the vision to fund the Food Recovery Network, which now has 200 Campuses enrolled. Sadly Steve passed away four years ago, but his legacy will live on.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
TM: Reducing the amount of meat they consume and replacing it with a plant forward alternative. This one step has positive implications for health as well as the environment.
FT: What advice can you give to President Trump and the U.S. Congress on food and agriculture?
TM: My request would be to continue supporting farmers through the various USDA subsidy programs, because so much of the excess food finds its way into our schools and our food banks where it can help to provide nutritious meals for children, seniors, and those in need.