A Conversation with Andy Lansing - CEO, Levy Restaurants


1. What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

Anyone who works in hospitality should have a personal interest in reducing food waste. We’re all trying to reduce our costs without sacrificing quality, and the number one best way to do this is by reducing waste. You can truly save an enormous amount of money without sacrificing a single aspect of the guest’s experience, just by being mindful.


2. Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

I’m on the road constantly visiting our locations, and I am inspired virtually every day by the work our people to do reduce food waste. Whether it’s executive chefs creating new dishes to celebrate underused cuts of meat or produce, line cooks dedicating themselves to getting the most out of every single ingredient, or operators finding ways to repurpose used cooking oil, countless individuals across Levy find ways both big and small to reduce waste every day.


3. What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

I was raised as a proud member of the clean plate club, so I’ve never been one to let food go to waste. But I also use my role as a leader to encourage Levy to be a true innovator in sustainability. Our locations donate unused food to local food banks and charities, and at the scale at which we operate, that can make a huge impact in both reducing food waste and serving those in need. We’ve also long used recycled products at every possible opportunity, making sure that we’re reducing every kind of waste in our operations.


4. What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

While it’s critical for every individual to do his or her part in reducing food waste, companies like Levy and Compass Group have an enormous opportunity to lead the way in our practices, both by setting examples and using the scope of our business to make immediate and significant impacts. When I look at the broader hospitality industry, I see companies in every aspect of the business doing their part to cut food waste. They know it’s not only the right thing to do, but also good business. I’m an eternal optimist, but I think anyone who spends time in our business would be encouraged by where things are headed.


5. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

I think it’s important that we all vote through our dollars by supporting companies that make a commitment to reducing food waste. I’m very proud that Levy and Compass Group share this commitment

5 Questions with Belinda Oakley - CEO, Chartwells K-12


1. Which non-profit mission do you feel most committed to supporting?

It is my belief that a steady job is the single most important step in a person’s transition out of poverty or distress. That’s why I’ve focused my efforts on building confidence and creating pathways to self-sufficiency for at-risk youth, homeless and low-income individuals. Through volunteer work and mentoring employees, I am proud to be able to ‘be the change’ for those in need of a hand up. 

2. How did you become personally invested?

As a teenager, I personally experienced displacement and at that time, questioned what good the future could hold for me. Since then, ‘there but for fortune’ has always remained top of mind because I know just how close we can be to a change in circumstance. I have been blessed and continue to be blessed by the support of individuals in both my personal and professional life who see more in me than I often see in myself. That belief and support has driven me to aim higher and strive further than I ever thought I could. Now, I’m not only compelled, but am sincerely committed to paying it forward. 

3. What do you do to show your support?

Over the years, I have worked with a number of not-for-profit organizations such as Chrysalis in Los Angeles and Urban Peak in Denver whose missions include supporting low income, homeless or unstably housed, recently incarcerated or recently rehabilitated individuals get back on their feet. Through these experiences, I have had the opportunity to volunteer as an employment coach helping individuals in a variety of ways, from getting a suit that makes them feel confident for a job interview, to writing their first resume or practicing for an upcoming job interview. I have also served as a youth mentor and a program instructor for job readiness classes. 

4. Can you share a story when you realized your efforts were making a difference?

As a volunteer with Chrysalis, I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with incredible people who were just in need of a second chance – many of whom were housed temporarily on infamous Skid Row. When people learned about my work there, it struck me how easily they would stereotype the individuals in need. Being able to share the facts with friends, families and co-workers made a difference immediately.  75% of people who came to Chrysalis had their high school diploma of GED. 33% were parents with children under the age of 18%. 11% were veterans. One co-worker in particular was so struck by the impact we were making that she too became a volunteer. Secondly, at Chrysalis, when a person  secures a job, they celebrate by ringing the “Success Bell” in the lobby. Standing and applauding that moment of change for individuals I supported will remain with me forever.

5. Why is it important to you to give your time to others?

We all have the opportunity to be the change in someone else’s life and if you’ve experienced the gift of giving back, you know there is no greater feeling. As a mother to a beautiful little girl, it’s also important to me to instill these values and be a role model for service so that she can grow up to change someone’s life!


A conversation with GENCER ÜZÜMLÜ - Compass Group Turkey Culinary Director


What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately? 

Being conscious about food wastage and taking necessary actions not to waste food as an individual, corporate and community is our responsibility to our planet, people and nations which do not have the number of resources available to us.

What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the professional and home kitchen?

Proper planning in all aspects of production and operation is the key to minimize or stop food wastage. Success in planning the menu, staff and purchasing will definitely minimize or end the food waste. I would say proper planning will help a lot in the home kitchen as well.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Considerate and responsible purchasing and well-planned menus will lead to proper cooking and consumption. Think twice before planning, buying and cooking.

What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?

I like to use leftover vegetables and herbs as flavouring agents for my roasts. I also cook a lot of purees and soups with whatever is left in the fridge.

5 Questions with Jessica Rainbolt - Communications Specialist


1. What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

I spent half my childhood on a farm in Nebraska. Because my family was putting a lot of work into the food we were eating, I was a little more aware of when it was wasted. Last year, I started working for Compass Group as the company was kicking off the first annual Stop Food Waste Day. The team’s passion around food waste reduction inspired me to pay closer attention to my contribution to the waste problem. I realized that even though I grew up in a family that cared a lot about food, I wasn’t doing all that I could to stop food waste. That awareness pushed me to make changes in my shopping and eating habits. I love that I work for a corporation that cares so much about the well-being of the planet; it’s contagious! 

2.  Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

My mother is the biggest food waste warrior I know. She developed a food allergy later in life that requires her to be extremely cautious about prepared foods. For that reason, she makes everything from scratch--from preparing her own deli meat and broths to homemade pasta and bread. She puts so much time and effort into each meal, she doesn’t waste any of it. She freezes veggie scraps and bones to use in her broths and stocks. She repurposes leftovers so effectively, you’d be surprised you ate that meal already. One of my favorite transformations was from this past Thanksgiving’s leftovers. She turned the turkey and stuffing into delicious nachos—a completely different meal using the ingredients from a meal we ate the day before. Even if I wanted to, it would be almost impossible to waste food around her because a lecture about how many ways you can use asparagus stalks will immediately follow.

3.  What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

I’ve started taking more trips to the grocery store. I eat a lot of fresh vegetables, but they don’t last. Growing up in a large family, I was trained to buy in bulk. But since I’m typically cooking much smaller meals for myself, my veggies would often go bad before I got the chance to enjoy them. It takes a cognizant effort to plan my meals for the week and shop only for what I need for the next few days. Now, I plan meals around the fresh ingredients I have left in the fridge and avoid consuming any frozen items until the fresh ones are gone.

4.  What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

It’s all about awareness. Because we live in a world of abundance, we often times forget how much work goes into everything we eat. From the amount of resources it takes to grow a single avocado and the work farmers put into the food we purchase, to the number of people hungry or food-insecure here in America and around the world, those numbers should remain top-of-mind. From the impact on our environment to our wallets, the food waste problem effects every single person. With awareness, people are becoming even more passionate about the food waste problem. That passion will eventually result in common sense legislation around food waste and create positive food habits for all of us.

5.     What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?  

Stop living by expiration dates. I lecture my friends all the time when I see them throwing out eggs or milk just because of the date on the carton. The “sell by” and “use by” dates have been around so long, we’ve been conditioned to live by them. You’ll know when milk is bad. You can test eggs before cracking them open to see if they’ve gone bad. If you find you are throwing out the same foods every time, adjust your shopping habits accordingly.

A Conversation with Zsa Zsa Soffe - Compass Group Communications Manager


What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately? 

I think it’s long overdue. It’s great that we’re seeing a focus on such an important topic.  I grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe where we were very self-sufficient--picking vegetables daily from our garden. Not much ever went to waste.  Plus, I’ve seen extreme poverty in countries like Zimbabwe and India where many survive on just one meagre (meager) meal a day.  As someone who loves to cook, I am acutely aware of the waste I sometimes create so I am trying every day to turn this awareness into tangible action to reduce my own food wastage.  Working for Compass Group has given me that added push! 

What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the kitchen? 

Don’t buy too much! Check your shelves and your fridge and make a list before going to the supermarket.  Don’t get carried away ordering groceries online that you don’t need. Also, consider all parts of the vegetable – most of the bits we throw away are perfectly edible, contain fiber and other nutrients, and are actually delicious.  Keep the leaves from celery and add them to a soup or stew for extra flavour (flavor). Make a pesto using the fronds and stems of a fennel plant. I could go on… 

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference? 

Put on your plate only what you know you can finish.  

What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers? 

I love turning leftover rice into a tasty new meal.  When I have leftover cooked rice, the next day I fry off onions, garlic and whatever vegetables I have in the fridge – peppers, celery, carrots, mushrooms, fennel. I add touch of chili – add some fresh chopped tomatoes. Then the rice and lots of fresh herbs and seasoning and bingo: I have another tasty and healthy meat-free meal-- equally yummy eaten cold as a packed lunch. 

5 Questions with Bobby Kutteh - CEO, Compass One Healthcare


1.       What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

Having been involved with World Vision, The Salvation Army and volunteering at a number of soup kitchens over the years, I am constantly reminded of the many hungry and starving people. It hurts my heart to see so many people in need, especially when the amount of food waste that goes on in our country is so outrageous. Now I have a platform to really make a difference, and I am touched by how our Morrison accounts are reducing food waste. I’ve seen first-hand how they are partnering with our customers to set up food donation programs in our communities. It’s humbling and inspiring, and makes a large difference to so many.

2.       Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

I am especially proud of our Morrison Mission Health team in Asheville, NC. Their Food Waste efforts and the hugely successful Food Recovery program with the Asheville Poverty Initiative have been remarkable. We’ve also provided our operators with great tools and expertise to help them along the way, which reflects the awesome power and collaboration that’s being leveraged across Compass Group. My hope is to continue to broaden our reach to many more communities that we serve.

3.       What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

My wife and I are doing a few small things, such as being more intentional about weekly meal planning and grocery lists. We also try not to go grocery shopping when we’re hungry, and ask about portion sizes when ordering at a restaurant so we can split entrées.   

4.       What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

I believe the majority of Americans are caring people. Building and sustaining healthy communities in our country and stopping food waste should be of significant importance to most everyone. This is a big challenge and unfortunately, not something that will go away with a flip of a switch. We need more food providers and food companies, as Compass has, to make it a corporate priority and part of its culture.

5.       What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

We’re all moving so fast every day and time is precious for everyone. But make it a habit to view the food you prepare and serve at home as a limited resource, and be smart about your portions and leftovers. There are so many good ideas for using leftover vegetables or protein – get creative! It doesn’t take a lot to make a huge difference, just some good old-fashioned planning and mindfulness, and of course, a caring spirit.

5 Questions with Chris Cochran - Executive Director of ReFED


1. What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

After college, I was living and working in Honduras with small farmers. I saw how much goes into producing our food. Later working in grocery retail, I witnessed the waste throughout the supply chain. It seemed like such a shame to just throw food away. It also felt like a highly solvable problem with a lot of progress to be made. It's one of the few issues I’ve worked on that has such broad-based support and a wide-range of benefits financially, environmentally and socially.

2. Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

My grandma was born in a generation where you did not waste. It is a natural part of who she is. She knows how to find a use for everything in her kitchen and always makes sure to use leftovers.  This is the result of coming out of a generation so affected by the Great Depression and a time where food was scarce. In an age of abundance, we have lost this mentality, but she is inspirational to me in the way that I view food waste.

3. What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

I do meal planning, create a list, and go grocery shopping with it. This means I only purchase what I know I will eat. I also think carefully about how hungry I am before ordering food. I often split dishes depending on my level of hunger.

4. What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

The first step in solving the problem is admitting we have one.  Then we need to face food waste as an opportunity. There is also a lot to be learned through observing our practices at home or in the workplace. You can learn a lot simply by taking a look at what you throw away.

5. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?  

I think everyone can make sure they purchase food based on what they need and will actually consume, rather than over-purchasing.


A Conversation with Laura Moore - Waste Warrior

Laura Moore_Waste Warrior.jpg

What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately? 

It certainly woke me up! As routine recyclers, I thought my family was made up of waste warriors – but then I realized how much more we can do.  Now that food waste is on my radar, I see opportunities for reduction everywhere.

What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the kitchen? 

Keep a sealable bag in the freezer and toss all the bits and pieces from your produce that don’t make it into your dinner.  We add everything to the same bag: skins of onions, ends of carrots, zucchini and squash, stems from herbs, leaves from celery and, a recent addition, the rinds from cheese.  When the bag fills up, we sauté all the pieces and then add water to make stock.  It’s so easy and makes me feel I-just-won-the-gold proud! 

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Inspire others.  I include my kids as much as possible in testing out new creation with our leftovers.  We put the music on, call it our “Kitchen Lab” and have fun. Whenever we have a new discovered success, we share it with our friends and encourage them to do something similar in their kitchen.

What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?  

Soup is my go-to move.  Once a week it’s just so easy to chop up everything that’s still in the fridge, toss it in a pot and turn it into something delicious.  But I started to stretch my newfound culinary wings by upcycling leftovers into tacos, omelettes, pasta sauces and a household favorite: Mexican Surprise. It’s a little different every time we make it, but no surprise it’s always a hit!  

A Conversation with Shelley Roberts, Managing Director Compass Group - Australia


What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction? 

It is estimated that around 3 million tonnes (tons) of food is wasted every year by the commercial food sector in Australia.  As the leader of the largest foodservice provider in the country I believe we can make positive change. Not only is food a valuable resource, but wasted food also costs the business millions of dollars a year. So we have environmental and financial incentives to tackle the problem.

Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you? 

Tomas Moonie is our Executive Chef at Melbourne Zoo.  He and his teams (also at Werribee Zoo) are really passionate about environmental sustainability and have reduced food waste by 40% over the past 6 months – which is phenomenal!  He has been a real advocate for reducing food waste within our business – sharing useful tips with other sites. These really focus around good planning: checking what customer numbers are forecast and ordering food accordingly; creating specials out of left overs; keeping soon-to-expire items toward the front of shelves and always checking stock before placing orders. 

What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

When entertaining at home I used to feel like I needed to over-cater in order to impress my guests. Now that I understand more about the impact food waste has on our planet, I am proud to get it “just right.” A clean plate rather than loads of leftovers is a sign of success to me!

What will it take for Australia to make food waste a priority? 

Australians are very environmentally conscious and the work of food charities like OzHarvest has done a great deal to raise awareness of food waste in recent years.  Last year, the Australian Government hosted a Food Waste Summit to discuss ways of combating food waste and setting targets into the future - so the issue is certainly on the public agenda.  Globally, our business has a Stop Food Waste initiative, which raises awareness of food waste and provides our sites with a range of tools and resources.  When I visit our sites I always discuss strategies to reduce food waste and am impressed by how passionate our people are about being more environmentally sustainable in our operations.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Don’t go shopping when you are hungry! Plan what you are going to eat in advance. It will reduce the amount of food you waste and save you time and money too.

5 Questions with Tony McDonald - CEO, Eurest


1.       Which non-profit mission do you feel most committed to supporting?

There are really two: young kids--more specifically coaching boy’s youth sports--and looking after the elderly. It really looks to both ends of life’s spectrum. On one end, you have young men, so full of dreams, potential and energy, who are in some critical formative years of their lives and the other end, the elderly who are facing the challenges of aging, ailing health, loneliness and despair. Essentially, I feel compelled to help those that are having a hard time helping themselves and working to bring some hope, smiles and happiness to their lives. With aging parents and friends my focus on the elderly has amplified recently but I have been involved with youth athletics most of my adult life.

2.       How did you become personally invested?

As a young man, I was deeply involved in sports and for a time it was my world - a top priority. I remember so many great men who coached me as a young kid and through high school who had such a profound effect on me--not just developing me as an athlete, but helping me become a better human being. I was so fortunate and learned so much about life from those men who coached me, they cared about the game and the sport but more importantly they cared about me as a person. I have two great sons who I had the pleasure to coach for many years. These are some of the most rewarding years of my life. I felt like I made a positive impact on their lives. It was more than just sports. Many of these kids came from difficult situations, and many needed some direction in their lives. Sports provided that outlet where they could escape, be part of something special, gain some confidence, smile and often times improve and excel. It meant so much to me as a kid I wanted to give back and try to do my part in helping develop great young boys into great young men.

3.       What do you do to show your support?

Unfortunately, there is no time to coach anymore, but I still like to support youth sports. I worry at times that youth sports continue to fade and that kids’ perception of sports is what they see on TV and ESPN. Kids need the dedication and time of great role models who can not only teach the game but help teach them about life. The minds and hearts of young kids are what are at stake here. I still like to support fundraising for youth sports, especially for those communities or families that can’t afford to make it happen.  I can’t resist to hobble out of my car in my suit when I get home to throw the ball around or shoot some hoops with a neighborhood kid. To see that smile is worth the aches and pains the next day!

4.       Can you share a story when you realized your efforts were making a difference?

I was in the Boston airport not long ago when young man named Brian approached me, stuck out his hand and said, “Hey, Coach McDonald.” I had not seen Brian in probably ten years and there he was: all grown up, starting a career, married and a kid on the way. Despite that he still called me “coach.” He went on to say what a great experience he had with me and we spent the next 15 minutes reminiscing and telling stories about the great couple of seasons we had together on the ballfield. Brian said those couple of years together with that team helped prepare him for growing up, learning some life lessons and developing relationships with his teammates that still exist today. He said those years were some of most cherished times of his childhood and hopes that his children can experience something like that one day. Pretty cool!

5.       Why is it important to you to give your time to others?

Well, time--to me--is the great equalizer. We were all created with different talents and skills; we all come from different backgrounds and cultures, different beliefs, and priorities. We also come from various educations and socio-economic conditions. The one thing we all have in common, however, is that everyone is only given 24 hours each day. The differentiator is how we choose to use that time. I believe it is perhaps our most precious asset, can never be replenished or renewed - we can’t go to the mall and buy some more time. Because of this, I feel it is the most impactful way to show others you care. Without question there are many people that can benefit from our talents and treasure, but the lasting effect of just spending time with someone--a young child or an elderly person--never fades. It stays embedded in their hearts and minds forever. Sending a check, gift or flowers can create a smile, but soon after can fade or be forgotten. My sense is spending time with people, ignoring our phones for a stretch, really focusing on another person in need, and making them feel like they are the most important person in your life is the most important and impactful thing you can do for someone.


A Conversation with Jesse Hocker - Business Excellence, Consumer Engagement


What got you involved in stopping food waste?

Believe it or not, it was watching an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.  He did a fantastic show about the impact of food waste, the misconceptions around donating food and how easy it is to make a change.   It is definitely must-see television for anyone who is interested in getting involved.  His piece was well-written with staggering numbers and a really simple directive: Go do something about it! Luckily for me, I work in the industry for a great company and with amazing colleagues that are willing to be part of the solution!

How do you reduce food waste at home in your kitchen?

The secret is shopping at regular intervals and ALWAYS making a list.  I also look at my calendar to make certain that when I am traveling the refrigerator is bare.  Restaurants and organizations like Compass Group do a great job keeping their waste low because they are financially incentivized to do so.  They also have a ton of programs and resources in place to help them reduce waste.  The average shopper doesn’t realize how much food and money they are personally dumping into the local landfill.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Honestly, do a Google search regarding food waste and look at the numbers.  The amount of resources wasted by the average home is shocking and broad reaching.  If you want to combat global warming, gas emissions, stop wasting water and other natural resources – Stop Wasting Food!

What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?

Really simple and delicious ways to get rid of leftovers are the classic breakfast omelets / frittatas.  Basically, take everything in your refrigerator, toss it in a skillet and add eggs.  It is really hard to mess up and always turns out fantastic.

5 Questions with Chef Trevett Hooper, Legume Bistro


1.       Using one ingredient/product that gets 100% utilization as an example, tell us how that ingredient travels through your kitchen, and the different places it ends up?

We use the cobs from fresh corn to make stock in the summer months. It has a great flavor and a natural sweetness that lends itself to many applications, especially vegetarian.  To make it, we just boil leftover corncobs from which the kernels have been removed--no other aromatics. 

We use the corn stock in corn soup, to replace water in polenta and corn grits. 

Another thing is pickle brines, which we use in cocktails, braises, sauces, and vinaigrettes. 

2.       What ingredient(s), for example, would most be surprised to learn has gone from bin to menu?

I mentioned this in the meeting, but I can't stress enough how wonderful chicken schmaltz is. After we skim chicken stock of impurities during the first 30 minutes of so, we skim the fat off the top and use it like we would use canola oil to sauté all of our meat and poultry proteins in. Replacing purchased canola oil with something that we used to go out in the oil barrel has saved us a lot of money. 

3.       How did you go about engaging and inspiring your employees towards your sustainability vision?

I write a monthly newsletter which I share with my guests and my staff. It is mostly about what goes into the food behind-the-scenes, the relationships with our farmers and stories about local foods. The regular distribution of the newsletter has been very valuable for us in terms of shaping the narrative about our restaurant. 

4.       What did you find was the number one cause for waste in the kitchen and how did you address that?

I mentioned in the meeting that our #1 waste was staff meal, and that we addressed it by paying more attention to how much we were making.  We also worked on making staff meal better every day, which also reduced leftovers because people were more excited to eat it!

5.       How do you creatively utilize and re-purpose leftovers?

My best approach to leftovers involves understanding the value of having dual concepts, high-end and low-end close to each other.  For example, being able to have an outlet for broken portions that might not work on a high-end menu, but can get shredded into a ragout to be served over pasta at a more casual spot next door. 


A Conversation with Justin Williams, Executive Director - Morgan Stanley


What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

I lived in Asia for over 20 years and during that time I experienced the mass consumer demand with the disposable attitude of the early 1990’s. Among other things, this left us with beaches and seas full of waste causing us to go further afield to be able to find clean places just to go swimming. This encouraged me to participate in and drive recycling and waste reduction programs. I was personally thrilled when, years later, we were able to eliminate all disposables from our food services and pantries in offices across Asia. Now that I am in America, I am trying to move our services away from disposables and promote recycling, at the same time we continue to monitor and refine our food production to reduce waste.

I believe that it is important for you to be able to make an emotional connection with your audience as people are more responsive.

What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

Not over-shopping. We all can get carried away, especially when we are food shopping while hungry! I really think about the meals I am planning for, so that we don’t have food going to waste. It is easy to buy food on promotion, but if you aren’t going to be able to eat it all, you are just throwing money away.

What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

Cost. Only when it hits people in the pocket will things change. That’s when it personally impacts them. It is too easy for people to turn a blind-eye to this or say it has no effect on their lives, but if there is a financial cost, people will take notice.

What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Look for products that don’t use wasteful packaging and say no to disposables when you can. No to plastic bags, no to disposable cutlery with your take-out food. If you must use disposables, be sure to recycle them; it really isn’t that hard to find a recycle bin.

5 Questions with Chef Ed Brown - Restaurant Associates


1.   What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately?
I think it’s terrific. This is something where everyone can actually make a difference. People need this information and education to understand the massive amount of food wasted and how that negatively effects our planet. Armed with this information, we can make informed and painless choices and easily make a big impact.

2.   What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the professional kitchen? Elevate the awareness of every food service associate on the importance of being more conscious of reducing food waste at the source--and what they can do to address the issue.  
The easiest, and most common-sense way to reduce food waste is to buy less food--seriously! I constantly challenge our chefs who tell me they use 50 lbs. of a product every two days to order 40 lbs. and let me know what happens. Ninety percent of the time, the answer is we now buy 20-30 lbs. less per week, which is a huge reduction in waste potential--not only because you bought less of one thing, but because you will sell more of the products you have without necessarily reducing variety. My motto: until you are on the brink of running out, you have too much. And, of course, there is the added financial benefit to purchasing less food!

3.   How about in the home kitchen?
At home, think carefully when at the grocery or market. Consider what you might have thrown away last week. Question yourself when you are enticed by those gorgeous strawberries: when will I actually eat them? Will I even be home in the next few days to eat them? If you do buy them and they are getting on the older side, make the effort to utilize them. Make a smoothie or cook them with a pinch of sugar for five minutes and keep in the fridge; it’s great on toast or with ice cream. The possibilities are endless! And I think I have an idea for my next cookbook…

4.   What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
BE AWARE! Just consider what you buy: utilize it to the absolute fullest and look at what you throw away.

5.   What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?
I’m a huge fan of making pastas or omelets with a wide range of ingredients. One of my favorites was a Caesar Pasta (See Below) that I featured on TODAY show.  I had ingredients for the salad but not really enough for a full dinner, so I made into a pasta dish that was outstanding!


A Conversation with Danielle Nierenberg - Food Tank President & Founder


What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

It’s a massive problem, both domestically and internationally, but has so many exciting solutions.

Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

I’m inspired by farmers in fields around the globe who are coming up with innovative ways to prevent post-harvest losses without much support from governments or research institutions and also what women farmers are doing to preserve and add value to food—including making vegetable powder for soups and other foods in Mali and making dried mango and fish in The Gambia.

What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

I travel all the time so I try to both not overbuy and use all of the perishable food or freeze it before I leave.

What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

What I like so much about this issue is that it is truly bi-partisan—no one is “for” wasting food and no one wants to waste money. You can literally see both eaters and policymakers have an “ah-hah” moment when they realized that wasting food is throwing away money. I think preventing food waste requires us to value food and realize it isn’t as cheap as the price we pay at the grocery store.


Becky Green - Our Waste Warrior of the Week


1. What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately?

Finally! Reducing food waste can impact so many issues that are hurting our planet. Hunger, depleting natural resources and climate change are just a few that can be significantly changed if everyone thought twice about what they put in their trash.

2. What are your best tips to make it easy to reduce food waste in the kitchen?

Awareness. That is why I think the continuous attention food waste is getting is so great! Once you start thinking about what you’re buying and throwing away each week you will reduce your food waste. Take a second every day to scan your fridge and see what you have left and what will soon go bad. It will make a difference, I promise!

3. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Make the effort to reduce your waste and then share your stories with friends. Have fun with it! As I mentioned before, if we can work together to get everyone thinking before they send food to landfill, we can make great change.

4. What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?

I love sweet potatoes and they go with anything--sweet or savory. I love making sweet potato bowls in the morning with nut butter and granola or sweet potato bowls in the afternoon with leftover veggies or greens that will soon go off.

5 Questions with Chef Alex Seidel, Executive Chef & Proprietor


1. What’s your take on all the attention food waste is getting lately?

It is a great topic and something that I talk to my family about often.   Ever since I was a young chef, controlling waste through organization and complete utilization is how one respects food.  This proactive approach to running a lean kitchen isn’t only essential for running a sound business but it is a skill that people should take home with them as well. 

2. What are your best tips to reduce food waste in the professional kitchen?

It starts with understanding what goes into the kitchen trash. It is not just the preparation of food, it starts with ordering and the chain is linked until the guest has finished their meal and the plate comes back to the kitchen.  Once you are aware of the waste that is created, it takes constant communication and training with your team about the importance of product utilization, portion size and organization. Nose-to-tail has certainly become trendy as of late but chefs have thought about food waste for a long time because food cost has always been part of the kitchen culture.   I really appreciate the increased awareness.  It has created a conversation and a new way of thinking about food waste. Getting people to think about the critical state our food systems are in, is really important.

3. How about in the home kitchen?

Controlling waste at home is especially difficult for a busy family.   You have to plan, to think about your meals ahead of time, think about when you have time to eat and be cognizant of your schedule. Being a busy chef, my wife takes care of all of the little things but she can come home with a salmon fillet and some crab cakes without considering the fact that we have kid’s gymnastics and football practice the next couple nights.  Getting home at 9pm is not a good time to start cooking salmon and days later the quality is no good and the salmon is forced to be thrown away.  Often the lack of awareness on the time you actually have to cook for the family creates waste but proper planning can make a tremendous impact. 

4. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

I have noticed as I have gotten older and paying more attention to my health, that portion control is very key. If we could just reduce the sheer amount of food that we consume in every meal, our food system would not be under tremendous weight to over produce food, grow it such a rapid rate, or genetically modify foods.  I used to cook a ribeye for each person at the table and we would do our best to finish all of the meat, but now the four of us share a ribeye. Changing eating habits will put less pressure on our food system and create a healthier society.

5. What is your favorite way to repurpose leftovers?

Honestly, I hate leftovers so it is all about getting better at cooking for one or two or four or whatever size your group is. Having said that there are certain leftovers that I really love, obviously Thanksgiving, you can create a lot of different things with turkey. But I don’t like to eat the same meal twice so it is about repurposing and turning a protein into something different.


5 Questions with Scott Davis, CEO of FLIK


1.   What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

I worked for Whole Foods in the late 80’s and  90’s.  The issues back then are the same today. Working for a corporate culture / platform that is based on sustainability really made it personal for me.

2.   Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

I personally participate in our town’s central recycling center and Chris (the site’s attendant is an  engaging personality) makes the visits fun.  My guess is that people go to talk with Chris and the recycling is secondary.

3.   What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

It is a lifestyle.  My family has been working on eliminating our waste for years. The single biggest thing I am constantly reminding myself and my family how many people in America go to bed hungry.   I serve on the board for Hunger Related Events (Taste of the NFL) and we are working on the recapture of food as well as raising funds for food banks across the country.

4.   What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

We need more education in the public school systems and a strong social media campaign of how debilitating waste is in this country. It is all about awareness(kids will put pressure on their parents) and adopting better practices. Culturally we need to be raising the issue everywhere.

5.   What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Visit a shelter and see how the smallest of contributions can make the biggest of impacts. Awareness will nurture new behaviors that will become habit and culture.

5 Questions with Regina Northouse, Executive Director of Food Recovery Network


1. What motivated your personal interest in sustainability and food waste reduction?

My role as Executive Director of Food Recovery Network has brought together my passion for ending food waste and hunger, my experience with individual leadership development, and my belief in young people as powerful agents of change. I’ve dedicated my career to non-profit work, as I believe it can generate solutions to many problems in our communities. Sustainability efforts require big systems change, small systems change, innovative and disruptive system change and individual behavior change. This kind of work requires collaboration, another powerful ingredient to change that I am committed to fostering. And that’s just one of many skills needed. I believe that this food recovery movement, led by a whole generation of passionate young people, are is going to be the ones who what significantly disrupts status-quo problems.

2. Can you share a story about a food waste hero who inspired you?

Working for a national organization with more than 230 chapters on college campuses is humbling. Every student in our network has their own inspiring story. I’m always excited to share some of them! For example, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, our students at the University of Tampa showed incredible strength and resilience. And at FRN, our students donate their food to local nonprofit organizations such as homeless shelters, soup kitchens or food pantries. We call those nonprofits our “nonprofit partner agencies.” Our Tampa chapter would go goes beyond just dropping off their nutritious food to their local agency--they would also volunteer as mentors, working with the elementary students there. When the building where this nonprofit was housed suffered terrible fire damage from hurricane Irma, our students worked to continue to feed the people supported by that nonprofit. We didn’t even know about the fire damage and what they were doing to help ensure people were being fed until we reached out to see if our student leaders in the affected areas were okay. They just felt this is what they had to do in the wake of such a tragedy.

3. What change have you made personally to be more mindful?

Food waste can happen to the best of us — it definitely happens to me — but I try to eat the produce I’ve purchased as soon as possible and put food that needs to be consumed first in the front of my fridge. For the unavoidable food scraps, I make sure to compost all organic matter. Another nonprofit that I love, called Ample Harvest also is a way for home growers like myself to donate my surplus grown produce to local nonprofits if I can’t consume it all, freeze or preserve it, or give it away. It’s a great resource. And, the founder of Ample Harvest is on the FRN advisory board!

4. What will it take for America to make food waste a priority?

For this country to truly make food waste a priority, there are changes that we can make at every step of the food production process as I noted earlier

We have to make a concerted effort to educate Americans — and I’m sure you’ve seen some of the cool educational campaigns that have cropped up. More conversations about the way we consume food are being had every day, and FRN is here to amplify those conversations and the action steps that come from those discussions. Let’s not shame people for whatever part they may have in food being wasted, but give them the tools and resources to make everyday behavior changes that can make such a big difference. People are pretty savvy about preventing food waste once they’re given the right resources. I’ve yet to meet someone who wants to waste food or waste money.

5. What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Besides making sure their school or alma mater has an FRN chapter, there are many small changes that every person can make. Here are a few simple things that can make a huge difference:

•  Have an “eat me first” bin in your fridge to make sure fresh produce isn’t wasted.

•  If you’re eating at a buffet, try not to mound over your plate, but go up as needed. You’ll get your money’s worth no matter what, but getting your money’s worth doesn’t mean throwing away the two whole pieces of chicken or an entire piece of cornbread you just couldn’t finish.

•  Look closely at the buying patterns in your home. Buying in bulk doesn’t save you money if you’re not using the full product. If you buy a huge container of hummus because it’s cheaper, but you’re wasting half of it, think about buying a smaller amount the next time you’re at the store.


Q & A with Amy Keister, VP of Sustainability - Compass Group


1.  What originally inspired you to get involved in your work?

My grandparents never wasted anything. Food was precious to them, not something that was taken for granted or thrown away.

2.  What makes you continue to want to be involved in this kind of work?

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.

3.  Who inspired you as a kid?

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.

4.  What do you see as the biggest opportunity to fix the food system?

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.

5.  Can you share a story about a food hero who inspired you?

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.

6.  What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?

The overwhelming amount of food from going to farm to landfill. I want to see more food going from farm to table.

7.  What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?

Shop with a shopping list.