Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Patrick O’Neill, the CEO and Founder of Amp Your Good (a ‘crowd-feeding’ platform to amplify the impact of food drives).
Food Tank (FT): What inspired you to get involved in food and agriculture?
Patrick O’Neill (PO): I grew up in a family restaurant business. That early connection to food sowed the seeds of my interest.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
PO: The fastest way to change is via the consumer. To do that, we need to continue to make progress at the thought leadership level—continue to push the culture and to develop distributions systems that are not controlled by the food industrial/agriculture complex.
FT: What innovations in agriculture and the food system are you most excited about?
PO: This is selfish, but I’m most excited about what we are doing at Amp Your Good. If we’re successful, we’re going to get 75 million people to donate healthy food instead of unhealthy food—that’s an opportunity to not only better support the 45 million people in the United States who are food insecure, but to further educate and encourage the donors to think about the food movement, healthy food, and eating.
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero that inspired you?
PO: My mother. While raising six kids and working hard at our family restaurant business, she always had enough to time to make extra meals for people who were struggling.
FT: What drives you every day to fight for the bettering of our food system?
PO: My four children, and the idea that I can be involved in something that makes a difference.
FT: What’s the biggest problem within the food system our parents and grandparents didn’t have to deal with?
PO: The dominance of the food industry, [and] its concentration of power. The decentralized nature of the food system [in] my parents and grandparents time provided for more locally grown food.
FT: What’s the first, most pressing issue you’d like to see solved within the food system?
PO: Clear information so people know about the choices they are making.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
PO: Ask where their food is coming from.
FT: What’s one issue within the food system you’d like to see completely solved for the next generation?
PO: I would like the federal government’s recommendations to match what science tells us.
FT: What agricultural issue would you like for the next president of the United States to immediately address?
PO: Dis-invest from the big agriculture and invest in local agriculture. Stop subsidizing the sugar industry.
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