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Waste Not
Public, Private Sectors Rallying to Reduce COVID-Fueled Food Waste

In the face of rampant supply chain disruptions, resulting in mounting food waste, a nationwide distributor and an agricultural powerhouse are doing what they can to cut it out of the equation.

KeHE, Spoiler Alert partnership bears fruit

Image credit: Daily Table

Late last month, food distribution giant KeHE announced preliminary results of a multi-year partnership agreement with food-waste-reduction app Spoiler Alert.

One of the largest grocery distributors in North America, the employee-owned, B Corp-certified KeHE provides natural & organic, specialty & fresh products to chain and independent grocery and natural food stores, and other specialty product retailers across the continent. Boston-based Spoiler Alert helps the grocery supply chain manage unsold inventory more effectively, increasing its partners' performance through sales management and analytical tools, along with a scalable, proprietary business-to-business trading platform.

In 2019, KeHE signed a multi-year agreement with Spoiler Alert to provide a scalable solution for supporting the distributor’s future growth and excess inventory management. For the past year, Spoiler Alert has provided KeHE with the analytics and tools to shift more inventory out of its waste stream — and bring access to a wide array of healthy, natural and organic products to a portfolio of discount retailers around the country, which are playing a vital role in communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"Our partnership with Spoiler Alert not only impacts our environment, it also impacts communities throughout the US,” said Laura McCord, Executive Director of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at KeHE. “Since the start of our pilot program with Spoiler Alert, we were able to donate over 1.5 million meals over the last year.”

California aims to rein in food waste with expanded 'Farm to Family' initiative

Image credit: Biz Journals/Imperfect Foods

Meanwhile, in California, the #1 agricultural producer in the US, Governor Gavin Newsom has announced an expansion of the state’s “Farm to Family” program, that will aim to address the disconnect between the state’s farmers — who, since the onset of the pandemic, are experiencing a 50 percent drop in demand for their mostly perishable food — and food banks, many of which are scrambling to meet skyrocketing demand from families in need. The new initiative is intended as a win-win, addressing both food waste and food insecurity. Newsom unveiled $3.64 million in new funding to expand the existing Farm to Family program, including $2.86 million from the USDA and $775,000 committed by philanthropy to jumpstart a $15 million campaign to further support the program through the end of the year. 

The initiative will enable food-insecure people across the state to receive roughly 20 million pounds of fresh, locally produced food per month. Participants will receive fresh food boxes — each of which feeds a family for three to four days.

Newsom and Karen Ross, California’s Secretary of Agriculture, said that over 200 new farmers and ranchers had already expressed interest in the program. 

Read more here

ReFED launches COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund

Image credit: ReFED

And ReFED — a collaboration of over 30 business, government, investor, foundation and nonprofit leaders already committed to eliminating US food waste — is also working to greatly reduce on-farm food loss, food business closures, and the growing number of food-insecure people due to the pandemic. The organization has launched the ReFED COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund to quickly deliver vital funding to organizations that can rapidly scale food waste reduction and hunger-relief efforts.

ReFED says it anticipates making a minimum of $1 million of grants over the next 30 days to a portfolio of organizations that will — in the next 90 days — prevent more than 10 million pounds of food waste and rescue 8.3 million meals. The goal is to continue raising up to $10 million in donations that will be quickly regranted to organizations in a position to make a major impact over the next few months. 100 percent of what is donated will go directly to well-vetted food waste solution providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

Priority focus areas include:

  • Prevention and recovery of fresh and healthy otherwise wasted food, especially at the farm level

  • Elimination of logistical constraints along the entire food supply chain

  • Last-mile delivery — distributing direct to end recipients, especially vulnerable populations facing food insecurity

Click here for more information and to apply ...

This story was updated on May 5, 2020.