Contributing Author: Sarah Axe
The 2nd Annual New York City Food Tank Summit on October 3rd entitled “Focusing on Food Loss and Food Waste” is only two weeks away and now completely sold out! It’s going to be an incredible, inspiring, and unforgettable day! New York City is booming with organizations, educational institutions, and individuals working to address food waste in creative and innovative ways that reduce hunger, protect the environment, and help to build a stronger food system.
We will be streaming the entire event live from New York University (NYU) Tishman Auditorium completely free at FoodTank.com and on Food Tank’s Facebook page. If you can’t join us live, we will be airing some of the sessions on our podcast “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” and posting videos on Food Tank’s YouTube channel. If you still want to attend in person, we will do our best to accommodate: please join the waiting list and we will fill those spots on a priority basis as we get word of cancellations.
In preparation for the upcoming Summit, Food Tank is highlighting 27 organizations in New York focusing on food loss and food waste.
BK ROT: BK ROT is a composting service that collects organic waste from businesses and organizations by bicycle. The waste collected is processed at their site, Know Waste Lands, in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Currently, they process between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds of organic waste per month. Part of the mission of BK ROT is to address environmental and social injustices that impact local youth. They cultivate leaders who are people of color, undocumented, women, and migrant and/or LGTBQ youth, focusing on those who are disproportionately excluded from conversations about solutions to climate change and equity in the food system.
City Harvest: City Harvest was founded in 1982 and is the world’s first food rescue organization. This year, they will collect 55 million pounds of excess food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries, manufacturers, and farms and deliver it free-of-charge to 500 community food programs across New York City.
The Cornell Waste Management Institute: The Cornell Waste Management Institute (CWMI) is a program in the Soil and Crop Sciences Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. CWMI focuses on organic materials by engaging in research, outreach, training, and technical assistance. They provide fact sheets and trainings about composting for a wide variety of audiences including households, schools, farms, and municipalities.
Excess NYC: Excess NYC investigates the amount of food that goes to waste in New York City. They work to divert food from landfills by transporting waste and repurposing it to feed people or sending it to compost. They plan to work with small businesses to change their food waste disposal practices.
The Foodstand: The Foodstand is an organization dedicated to building good eating habits through community-powered challenges. Their food waste challenge includes sharing tips and ideas through social media using the hashtag #NoFoodWaste, meeting at communal events, and inviting friends to join in the challenge through e-mail and Twitter.
Food Recovery Network: The Food Recovery Network was founded in 2011 by students at the University of Maryland. Now, with more than 230 chapters in 44 states, including 20 colleges and universities in New York State, they have helped divert more than 2 million pounds of food waste into area nonprofits that feed those in need. The Food Recovery Network is the largest student-led movement in the United States addressing hunger through food waste diversion.
The Food Waste Reduction and Diversion Reimbursement Program: The Food Waste Reduction and Diversion Reimbursement Program is a partnership between New York State and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) that incentivizes the reduction of food waste in the state. They provide reimbursements to large businesses, municipalities, and nonprofit organizations to purchase equipment and technology that help divert food waste from the landfill.
Green Bronx Machine: Green Bronx Machine (GBM) is a K-12 educational model started by lifelong educator and food justice advocate, Stephen Ritz, with his students in the South Bronx. Ritz believes that food waste is the most pressing food issue today. GBM transformed an old library into the National Health, Wellness, and Learning Center at Community School 55 in the heart of the South Bronx, a community with high rates of obesity, diabetes, unemployment, and food insecurity. The Center hosts an indoor vertical farm that uses 90-percent less water than traditional farms, a processing and training kitchen, and runs on alternative energy sources. GBM works to build healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities through hands-on garden education that aligns with the core curriculum in the classroom.
GrowNYC: Grow NYC is a sustainability resource for New Yorkers. The organization offers free tools and services for individuals, businesses, and organizations to improve the environment, and they also run several programs to strengthen their local food system. Greenmarket Farmers’ Markets are a collection of more than 50 markets that include youth programming, a food hub and delivery service, and benefits for SNAP shoppers. Their zero waste initiative aims to increase curbside recycling and includes more than 60 food scrap drop-off sites. They also offer a garden program and environmental education program for youth.
Harlem Grown: Harlem Grown aims to inspire young people in Harlem, New York City, to live healthy lives. They focus on influencing healthy habits at a young age through hands-on education programs, community partnerships, job training and mentorship, and increasing food access through the development of sustainable agriculture programs in the community. So far, they have transformed 10 vacant lots into urban farms and gardens, which they use to build environmental awareness and teach youth about the importance of sustainability. Each year, their agricultural sites divert more than 8,500 pounds of food scraps from the landfill into their compost systems.
Hunger Action Network of New York State: The Hunger Action Network of New York State represents emergency food providers, organizations, and individuals whose goal is to end hunger by addressing its root causes. They conduct policy work, which is driven by interests of its members, and lead grassroots organizing to bring together people from a diverse range of backgrounds to support programs that provide immediate food needed—while also building a collective platform to establish long-term solutions to end hunger. They are advocating for the NYC Food Recovery and Recycling Act, which would establish legislation requiring entities wasting large amounts of food to donate it to food rescue organizations, and then compost what is inedible.
Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center: The Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center works to develop innovative and evidence-based solutions for the prevention of chronic diseases and promotion of food security in and outside of New York. They work with policymakers, community organizations, advocates, and the public to build healthier and more sustainable food systems. Through research, policy analysis, evaluation, and education, they work with the students, faculty, and staff of Hunter College with a goal to make New York City a model for fair food policy.
James Beard Foundation: The James Beard Foundation’s mission is to “celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.” As part of this mission, they are in the midst of developing a food waste prevention training program for culinary school instructors. They receive support from The Rockefeller Foundation and are creating a food waste reduction curriculum with instructors across a wide range of institutions. The program plans to offer skills, trainings, and tools to help current and future generations of culinary students minimize waste and maximize their use of ingredients. They have invited a group of culinary educators from diverse institutions across America to participate in their Culinary Instructor Pilot Group.
Long Table Harvest: Long Table Harvest aims to strengthen social and economic equality in the local food system by working with farmers and collaborating with the community. They help connect farm surpluses to emergency food sites and community-based organizations and work towards more sustainable surplus redistribution. They have created a county-wide network for resource, knowledge, and wealth-sharing.
The Lower East Side Ecology Center: The Lower East Side Ecology Center implements community-based urban sustainability models. They provide e-waste and composting services, environmental stewardship opportunities, and educational programming to all New Yorkers interested in learning about environmental issues and wanting to help create solutions. Their Community Compost Program serves as a model for other organizations interested in starting food waste collection programs.
Natural Resources Defense Council: The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) works to protect people’s right to clean air, clean water, and healthy communities. They work with researchers and scientists to publish reports on food and food waste, such as, “Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill” and “The Dating Game.” Recently, they partnered with the Ad Council in an effort to change consumer behavior in order to reduce food waste. NRDC has also produced several reports in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation to help cities waste less food.
New York Food Bank Association: The New York Food Bank Association strives to help eliminate hunger in New York State by recovering food waste and feeding those in need. With eight locations across the state, they are working to reduce the amount of food wasted by individuals and businesses while also ending hunger across the state.
NY Common Pantry: NY Common Pantry works to reduce hunger in New York City while also promoting dignity and self-sufficiency through a range programs fostering long-term independence. They offer food provisions through the Choice Pantry program, healthy breakfast and dinner in the Hot Meals program, and supplemental food to seniors in a program called Nourish. NY Common Pantry offers case management services to address the causes of food insecurity with Help 365, which connects visitors to resources, in addition to Project Dignity, which focuses on connecting homeless visitors to resources.
NYC Food Waste Fair: NYC Food Waste Fair is an annual expo-style event that includes workshops, digital content, and live demonstrations to support businesses with tools to reduce waste. In 2017, the NYC Food Waste Fair brought together more than 35 expert and city government officials who led workshops on compliance, offered guidance on how to achieve cost-effective results, and hosted interactive panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, and video programming with more than 75 food waste exhibitors.
New York State Food Recovery Campaign: The New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling is currently leading a statewide food recovery campaign based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s food recovery hierarchy, to redirect excess food to feed hungry New Yorkers and compost food that is inedible. The campaign is also engaging with stakeholders across the state to educate them about the root causes of food waste and collaboratively develop mitigation strategies.
Rescuing Leftover Cuisine: Rescuing Leftover Cuisine is aiming to become a global solution for companies and individuals trying to eliminate food waste in their communities. They are striving to make food rescue sustainable and universal, while eliminating hunger. To date, they have helped rescue nearly 2 million pounds of food and have served almost 1.5 million meals to homeless shelters.
Rethink Food NYC: Rethink Food NYC takes excess food that would otherwise go to waste and transforms it into nutritious meals, which they offer at little or no cost to families in need in New York City. Food is recovered from grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers’ markets. They cultivate both leadership and entrepreneurial skills with employed chefs and go further by “using food as the tool to promote poverty solutions, participate in nutrition education, and convene food policy events.”
The Rockefeller Foundation: The Rockefeller Foundation, headquartered in New York City, supports and partners with Universities and nonprofit organizations that take action against food waste by addressing the question, “how can we sustainably nourish the world with dignity and equity, without breaking the back of our planet?” Through their support, they helped create Trash Hunger, Not Food: A Guide to End Food Waste on Campus, a toolkit and website that offers resources to students who seek to reduce waste. In partnership with the NRDC, they examined the amount and kinds of food waste in Denver, Nashville, and New York City to identify opportunities to tackle food waste. They launched YieldWise Food Loss in 2016, aimed at reducing food loss and waste by half of current amounts and YieldWise Food Waste, which focuses on food waste in the U.S.
Square Roots: Square Roots is an urban farming accelerator in New York City that builds vertical hydroponic farms in shipping containers. Entrepreneurial students at the accelerator grow spray-free leafy greens in indoor farms in the heart of Brooklyn and deliver their products directly to the offices of customers. The accelerator graduated its first class of students in 2017.
Sustainable Restaurant Corps: The Sustainable Restaurant Corps (SRC) provides sustainably focused consulting services to the restaurant industry. SRC helps restaurants across New York City reduce their waste and serve sustainable food.
Two Birds, One Stone: Two Birds, One Stone is a student-led club out of NYU. The organization started in 2009, dedicated to feeding the hungry and homeless population in New York City while also working to reduce the amount of food wasted in the NYU dining halls.
Ugly Produce is Beautiful: The Ugly Produce is Beautiful campaign was started by Sarah Phillips, who has been named by the New York Times as the matriarch of the “First Family of Instagram.” She uses social media to create awareness about ugly produce food waste. She assembles the ugly produce into creative patterns and photographs them to show their true beauty. Sarah has also grown a following of more than 500,000 people.