8 Organizations Showcasing Solutions on Food Waste Management and Reduction in NYC

This past September, over 1,000 young climate activists convened in NYC for the historic UN Youth Climate Summit to discuss the climate actions they are taking in their communities and call on world leaders to address the climate emergency (I was lucky enough to be one of the 500 to be nominated and selected to attend!). In support of the Summit and to kick off Climate Week NYC 2019, I was proud to partner with eight incredible organizations engaged in the food waste space to host an event showcasing solutions on food waste management and reduction in NYC.

At this event, we had three main components: 1) a workshop where participants explored the diverse perceptions of our fresh produce from the “beginning” to the “end” of its life, 2) a food supply-chain walkthrough exercise to assess food loss at every stage of the supply chain, and 3) a fireside chat panel where food waste experts engaged in a participatory discussion with participants on why we haven’t solved the global food waste crisis yet. Participants were engaged at the top of the morning, creating literal maps of different foods’ “life journeys”, learning how different organizations are addressing food waste at each stage of the supply chain, and asking pointed questions and making suggestions for how we can all reduce food waste in our homes and in our workplaces.

Participants sat in groups to explore the “life journey” of fresh produce, led by GrowNYC’s Recycling Outreach Coordinator Larissa

As partners from the inspiration, to the ideation, and eventually the implementation phase, these partners were rockstars. For those of you who live in NYC and want to reach out to these partners, I’ve shared some information about them below.

Angel Veza, Food Waste Expert and Director, Hospitality Advisory, First Principle Group, Chief Operating Officer, First Line

Angel Veza originally worked in the education field teaching underserved communities. After working with students for 7 years, Angel received her Grade Diplome at the French Culinary Institute and worked through New York City’s top restaurants including Morimoto and two-Michelin starred Atera and with foodservice companies like Compass Group. During that time, she witnessed the significant amount of food being wasted and then decided to work with ReFED, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing food waste through Economics and Data. As an expansion of that, she worked in supply chain and led strategic sourcing and procurement at Manahtta Restaurant, part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Angel currently heads the Hospitality Advisory of First Principle Group and is the Chief Operating Officer at First Line.

Angel of First Principle Group / First Line Food led a food supply chain walkthrough exercise, bringing to light the linkages between food waste and climate change

Sabine Valenga, CMO and Co-founder, Food for All

Sabine is a designer and food-tech entrepreneur. After finishing her degree in Architectural Design from Columbia University, where she focused her studies on how technology and design can generate a positive impact on our urban ecosystems, she co-founded Food for All: an app tackling food waste by selling restaurants’ surplus meals for users that buy it for at least 50% off. As their CMO, she now leads their branding and marketing efforts, and is passionate about making “reducing food waste” something that is desirable, easy, and part of our daily lives. 

Larissa Ho, Recycling Outreach Coordinator, GrowNYC

Larissa Ho is a Recycling Outreach Coordinator at GrowNYC. Her work is primarily in recycling, and helping New York City residents divert waste from landfills through education and outreach. In addition to recycling, she works with buildings enrolled in NYC’s Curbside Organics Program to troubleshoot any logistical issues, and promote residents of the buildings to participate in the program. (fun fact: Larissa also visited my office to host a Recycling 101 brownbag session with my coworkers!)

Daniel Litwin, Director of Farm Relationships, Misfits Market

Daniel Litwin is the Director of Farm Relationships at Misfits Market. Daniel started his food journey working as the produce manager for a large supermarket in Brooklyn. It was there that he learned the ins and out of New York City’s produce industry while also beginning to notice its issues. Daniel’s many subsequent roles in the industry have included apprenticing for a local butcher shop in Chelsea, lead purchasing for three Jean-Georges restaurants, and working in farm relations and sourcing for a source-transparent local food distributor. Having seen more than his share of perfectly good food go to waste, Daniel now brings his skills and experience to the Misfits Market team to help tackle the growing crisis of food waste in our country.

Katy Franklin, Operations Director, ReFED

Katy Franklin serves as ReFED’s Operations Director, overseeing operations, fundraising and organizational strategy. Prior to ReFED, Katy has worked on consumer education, implemented food waste reduction programs with corporate offices and at major events and authored academic and market research. Katy also helped develop Further with Food, a public-private partnership convened to address food loss and waste and serves on one of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research’s Advisory Councils. Learn more about ReFED on their website and follow them on Twitter

Robert Lee, Co-founder and CEO, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

Robert Lee is the co-founder of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, a nonprofit organization that provides a reliable food rescue service by fostering community connections to reduce food waste and food insecurity. Robert is a Forbes 30 Under 30, CNN Hero, and NYC Food Policy 40 Under 40. Follow the latest Rescuing Leftover Cuisine’s news on their website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter

Emma Moore, Marketing Associate, Toast Ale USA

Emma Moore became passionate about fighting food waste during her time at Parsons School of Design. Stemming from this passion, she aims to work alongside companies that create a positive and local impact like Toast Ale. At Toast, she manages Whole Foods sales and produces all the creative work including social media content. Emma believes through education, policy development, and impact research, that people in New York City will begin to understand the urgency of food waste and its effect on climate change. Through Toast, she manages to meet like-minded people with the same passion, but over a pint of beer! Follow Toast Ale USA on their Instagram.

Homa and Nahid Dashtaki, Founder and Operations Manager, White Moustache Yogurt

Homa and Nahid Dashtaki are the Founder and Operations Manager of White Moustache, a small batch producer of home-style Persian and Greek yogurt in Brooklyn. Using the whey byproduct of yogurts, they make delicious products ranging from tonics, popsicles, and more!

At the end of the event, I asked participants to raise their hands if they learned something new at the event and/or made a new connection!

What started as a small idea that came from a civil society briefing for the UN Climate Action Summit led to the successful execution of A Healthy Blueprint’s first event thanks to the help of these incredible partners! I hope to be able to put together more events like this in the future, with the gentle but encouraging nudges of some of our participants. 🙂

from left to right: Sabine Valenga, Angel Veza, Belinda Chiu (me!), Robert Lee, Daniel Litwin, Victor Carreño, Larissa Ho