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In the United States 

40% of the food 

we produce does not get eaten 

COVID-19 highlighted the need 

to improve the existing

food supply chain 

COVID-19 exasperated the amount of individuals who required food assistance this year. 1 in 8 Americans suffer from food insecurity today. However, this problem persisted long before 2020. In fact, the US per capita food waste has progressively increased by 50% since 1974.


In 2010 alone, the USDA estimated that 133 billion pounds and $161 billion of food was wasted. Food loss in America exceeds one third of our Defense budget. Furthermore, if food waste was a country, it would rank the 3rd highest producer of greenhouse gases.

Drone video shows cars on November 21 , 2020 picking up meals ahead of Thanksgiving in a food drive organized by the city of Houston and grocery chain H-E-B. The Houston Food Bank ran out of available food. 

Drone footage by Mark Felix for The Washington Post

Brussels Sprouts

How might we reduce food waste in the United States and distribute the excess supply to those who need it

the most? 

Connect those who have food with those who need food.

A solution to connect two people should be simple.


Unfortunately, saving and delivering food before it expires often requires more logistics for consumers, retail stores, restaurants, ranchers, and corporate brunch attendees. For example, if a small farmer wants to donate a few thousand pounds of "unfit produce" the farmer must find a way to preserve, store, and distribute the food before expiration. This costs farmers money and takes away time that is better spent on improving the farms bottom line. Secondary research revealed many existing ideas and solutions that are making impact for select audiences and in select geographical areas. However, the entirety of existing solutions barely scratch the surface to solve the problem.


Through multiple rounds of brainstorming it became apparent that solving food waste at large is not possible through a single solution. Reverse brainstorming was used to flip the problem and inspire new ideas.


Reverse brainstorming revealed new opportunity areas. The flipped solutions highlighted above could be expanded on to invent new ideas that could be adopted over time.

# 1 - Bring the People to the Food

Distributing an excess supply of food is cumbersome and requires many steps.  If you can't bring the food to the people, bring the people to the food. How might farmers or companies publicly advertise when they have an excess supply? Is there a way to connect people who need food with leftovers in real time?


# 2 - Slow Down the Supply Chain

Research showed that food expiration is a major issue that leads to food waste. What if food expiration didn't exist? What if farmers could dump all produce in an air fryer, or a dehydrator, turn fruit and potatoes into powder. Farmers could increase their product options and eliminate the size of donations for transportation.

# 3 - Eliminate the Last Mile Delivery

If you can't bring the food to the people what if you eliminated the last mile of delivery? If a Starbucks is on every other corner and a USPS mailbox is every third corner how might these stakeholders collaborate to provide space for a local food donation box. What if "expired" food was placed in public vending machines and not a landfill? Dented canned-goods, holiday themed non-perishables, milk, "expired" stock could be purchased at a high-discount instead of going into the trash.


# 4 - Preserve More Food

Did you know expiration dates and sell-by dates are not mandated by the Federal government. Yep, thats right! It is a common myth that encourages consumers to avoid these items or toss the diary out a few days early due to presumed "safety issues". What if grocery stores increase the amount of customer segments? Similar to the airline industry, add basic economy. The produce, meat, and diary that are deemed non-camera ready becomes their own product line or own department. Some customers love sales, so why not make the weekly shopper and coupon deals easy. Don't hide these items in the back, give them a full aisle, or give them their own Dollar store!

# 5 - Increase Delivery Options

Share an Uber or Lyft recently? Why not share the ride with a dozen "expired" pineapples? What if Door Dash picked up food donations or old produce from restaurants? Does a company have extra space on a shipping container or cargo plane? Maybe supply the new Basic Economy Aisle with misfit produce. Partnering with technology and delivery corporations to optimize the food supply chain offer  opportunities to benefit both companies and Americans who identify as food insecure.

Change Does Not Happen in Silos or Through Single Solutions

As witnessed throughout 2020, the speed at which a COVID-19 vaccine was produced was remarkable, and made possible because of public and private sector collaboration. In congruence, the public sector and private sector must create partnerships and develop multiple strategies to create a food supply chain that reacts to the current supply and demand of food waste and those in need.

Solving food waste and hunger in the United States must involve multiple stakeholders and an elaborate mission to change current systems, processes, attitudes, and mindsets.


Changing food waste and hunger in America will require innovation across time.

Farmers Warehouse

We don't need an App, 

we need partnerships to create 

innovation strategies to reduce food waste and feed more 

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