Amy Keister, Vice President of Consumer Engagement for Compass Group North America, will be speaking at the inaugural New York City Food Tank Summit, “Focusing on Food Loss and Food Waste,” which will be held in partnership with Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED) and with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and The Fink Family Foundation on September 13, 2017.
Keister holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from James Madison University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She joined Compass Group in 2004 and has since managed a number of enterprise-wide initiatives in the areas of technology, finance, purchasing, and distribution.
As VP of Consumer Engagement, Keister is responsible for driving sales as well as spearheading Compass Group North America’s sustainability efforts. Her mission is to create a great customer experience while ensuring a mindful business strategy that takes customers, clients, and the environment into consideration and has implemented best practices for beverages, queuing, and analytics. Keister personally declared April 28 as her Stop Food Waste Day holiday, helping Compass’s sustainability program reach their goals around sustainable purchasing, transparency, and food waste reduction. Keister also serves as a board member of Loaves and Fishes, a nonprofit that seeks to match a week’s worth of healthy groceries with underprivileged families.
Food Tank spoke with Keister about the issues which have inspired her to shift her behaviors and attitudes towards food.
Food Tank (FT): What originally inspired you to get involved in your work?
Amy Keister (AK): My grandparents never wasted anything. Food was precious to them, not something that was taken for granted or thrown away.
FT: What makes you continue to want to be involved in this kind of work?
AK: First and foremost my two children. I want to help change our behaviors and attitudes toward food so that they have a better relationship with both food and waste. I’m also extremely inspired by the results we have achieved to date on reducing food waste and am humbled by the task still at hand.
FT: Who inspired you as a kid?
AK: My parents really inspired me while growing up in a rural town in Connecticut. It wasn’t a farm, just an acre or so, but my parents acted as if it was. We grew all of our veggies, had fruit trees, and we canned everything that we didn’t use right away. We had chickens, pigs, and a pet cow named hamburger…Nothing went to waste. Ever.
FT: What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?
AK: Awareness that 40 percent of food in America is wasted, that sell-by dates are misleading, communicating how easy it is for everyone make a little change, and how all of these little changes add up to tremendous change.
FT: Can you share a story about a food hero who inspired you?
AK: Tom Colicchio. Not only is Tom a fantastic chef, he is a true humanitarian. Chef Tom founded Food Policy Action in 2012 to hold legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming. He has been an outspoken voice on issues like improving school meals, the use of antibiotics in food sources, and better anti-hunger policies in America. I was honored to have Tom Colicchio partner with us on Stop Food Waste Day to bring about the change that is needed in our world to combat food waste.
FT: What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?
AK: The overwhelming amount of food from going to farm to landfill. I want to see more food going from farm to table.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
AK: Shop with a shopping list.
The NYC Food Tank Summit is now sold out. Register HERE to watch the livestream on Facebook. A few tickets remain for the Summit Dinner at Blue Hill Restaurant with a special menu from Chef Dan Barber. Apply to attend HERE. If you live in New York City, join us on September 14 for our FREE outdoor dance workout led by Broadway performers called Garjana featuring many great speakers raising awareness about food waste issues. Register HERE.