5 Questions with Susie Weintraub - One of Fortune's Innovators of the Year

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

My 3 boys.  I want my children to have an appreciation for the abundance of food and resources that we have – and realize that there are hundreds of millions of people (including 13 million children in the US alone) that are food insecure.  We can help by being more mindful and responsible with the resources we have – and the food we eat.  Reducing food waste is something that everyone – regardless of age – can support and help to mitigate. 

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

For me, it wasn’t a person that initially caught my attention. It was the statistic that 40% of all food produced in wasted in the US. I first thought “that can’t be right” – then started to dig in and found out in fact it is accurate – and may actually be a conservative estimate.

So personally, and professionally – I thought this is something we can truly impact.  Starting at home, but also creating awareness within and throughout Compass Group. Being the world’s largest global food service company, I felt this was an initiative that creates positive impact for people and planet, but also made commercial business sense.

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

I keep that 40% statistic top of mind when I shop, cook, make lunches for my kids, eat at restaurants – and remind my children of the same.  Gently encouraging my family and friends to be more mindful of food waste is a powerful means of shifting behavior – but a lot of times the 40% statistic alone grabs attention and resonates with people.

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

I think it’s simply continuing to raise awareness of the food waste issue. I’ve been in the food service industry for over 20 years, and I wasn’t aware of the magnitude of food waste until about 3 years ago. By creating awareness, and giving folks simple, easy tactics they can personally exercise to help reduce food waste (and/or recover where applicable) – I think collectively we can dramatically reduce the current statistic.  People want to do the right thing – they just need to be aware of the issue.

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

Keep that 40% statistic top of mind when shopping, eating, serving and cooking.  It’s nothing dramatic that needs to change in your personal life - just mindfulness alone tends to make you think twice about how much to buy, order, prepare – and portion (especially for kids!)