Improving Corporate Awareness of Food Waste – A UC Berkeley Students Experience!

Food, Equity, Entrepreneurship, & Development (FEED) is a food justice consulting student organization at UC Berkeley. In Fall 2019, we worked with Outside2Inside to generate innovative solutions to food waste on the UC Berkeley campus through a food waste education program. Our food waste education program was created to increase awareness of food waste among UC Berkeley students. We are planning to expand this into a program called Corporate Consciousness, which will provide food waste reduction strategies to corporations in the Bay Area.

At the beginning of the semester, we conducted outreach in the Bay Area, contacting over 25 companies that create food waste. After seeking partnerships, we conducted a thorough research analysis of the primary sources of food waste in corporations and innovative solutions these companies can take to address their food waste. This research informed the content of both our UC Berkeley education programs and our Corporate Consciousness program. In our research, we focused on the financial costs of food waste because we felt that corporates would be most invested in a program that could provide monetary benefits to their business. We found that, on average, a company can generate a financial return of $14 for every $1 spent on food waste reduction strategies in place of land-filling waste. We incorporated powerful information like this into our Corporate Consciousness program in order to show the extent to which food waste reduction strategies can benefit corporations.

While we continued to develop the Corporate Consciousness program, we implemented our food waste education pilot program in a UC Berkeley agricultural ecology class of around 40 students. We collected feedback from the students in order to understand what aspects of the program were more engaging and applicable. We then incorporated this feedback into our programs as we continued to design our future Corporate Consciousness program and UC Berkeley food waste awareness initiatives.

The Corporate Consciousness program aims to educate companies on the food waste that occurs at every stage of the supply chain in their business model and specific strategies that would reduce waste at each of these stages. For example, a corporate whose food waste primarily occurs at the preparation stage can add daily specials to surplus menu items to sell more of the food that would normally go to waste or take steps to incorporate a “nose-to-tail” approach — incorporating typically discarded but still edible parts of the produce such as the peel or stem. We included compelling data on the financial benefits of reducing food waste in a corporate and how pursuing more sustainable food practices in the business can boost corporate responsibility and public visibility within the community.

After we developed the Corporate Consciousness program, we developed a Volunteer Training curriculum that will allow us to bring Corporate Consciousness to scale by recruiting volunteers to effectively carry out the program as we develop partnerships with various corporations. The FEED team especially enjoyed using their creativity to design an effective program that will make a significant impact on the way companies approach food waste. We cultivated skills that we will carry with them into their careers, such as professional networking during the outreach period, effective communication and public speaking during our food waste awareness presentation, and program development at every stage of the project. We loved working with the amazing Outside2Inside team and collaborating with individuals who are as passionate as we are about changing the food system and making a positive impact on the lives of those within our community and beyond.

How Community Gardens reduce Food Waste?

The journey a vegetable takes from being planted on the farm to the grocery store can be long and complicated. First off, not all vegetables meet the standards to make the trip. Then, the vegetables that do get shipped face a variety of challenges.

The biggest waste happens when the vegetables are harvested and being prepared for shipping. Grocery stores only purchase vegetables and fruits that look good. There are no exceptions made for oddly shaped vegetables and these get discarded or set aside as livestock feed. In a community garden, all the produce is used. Even the weird-looking vegetables, the too-small carrots, the lopsided beets, the slightly bug-eaten cabbage. These are still perfectly good to eat even if they don’t look perfect.

The process of shipping fruits and vegetables thousands of miles from the farm to the grocery store is another area where lots of waste happens. The vegetables may rot on the long drive or show up in less than ideal conditions and get discarded before they make it to the shelf. Community gardens eliminate the whole transport issue because, of course, the gardens are local. They aren’t going to sit in a tractor-trailer on the highway spoiling and losing value. Freshly picked vegetables are always best taste-wise and nutritionally. The less a vegetable has to travel, the less likely it will become waste.

Additionally, community gardens can tailor what they grow to suit the specific desires of the community. If the gardens are growing what the local people want, then it will be eaten and not wasted. Community gardens thus are an excellent resource and strategy for reducing food waste.

Arbor Day event at Santa Clara Central Park

The City of Santa Clara conducts the Arbor day event every year in Santa Clara Central Park. The Earth Day Celebration Event this year (2019), marked the 32nd year of the National Arbor Day Foundation. The purpose of this event was to invite the local community to engage in environmental education for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy planet. Elementary students from in and around Santa Clara County were brought to this event to learn more about environmental awareness.

Outside2Inside was invited to be part of this good cause in bringing awareness to the community on environmental issues and how to contribute to a healthy sustainable planet. We were one among 20 vendors to participate in the event. Since this event is for the community and kids, we had prepared games like “Match the following” and identifying the “Wonky fruit/vegetable” to engage the school students. The activities were designed to bring awareness to the students that not all produce are grown in the same shape /size /color, it comes in different forms but is equally nutritious as the regular looking ones. We gave a lot of produce-related gifts like pineapple ice cube tray, fruit-shaped paper plates, beautiful flower seeds and “wonky carrots” to the students, teachers, and parents as an appreciation for their participation. By giving away the wonky carrots to the kids, we encouraged them to buy wonky produce from the grocery store. The kids were happy to take wonky carrot as its interesting shape looked cute for them. In their own words an enthusiastic kid asked us, “These carrots look cute and taste sweet, so why is it thrown away?” and ate the wonky carrot right away.  Almost all the kids who visited our stall showed great curiosity and interest towards “Wonky Produce”. We at Outside2Inside felt extremely happy to have brought awareness about “Wonky Produce” to these kids who are the future citizens of our country. The event was a great success and everybody who visited our stall walked out with awareness about food waste and how each one can contribute to reducing it.

Through this event, O2I accomplished the following:

  • ~4 hours of volunteer involvement
  • ~500+ people made self-aware about food waste
  • ~30+ lbs. of wonky produce recovered from getting wasted

This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our volunteers and we thank the City of Santa Clara for giving us this opportunity to be a part of this good cause. We wish to have many more such partnerships with them in the future.

Food Waste – World’s dumbest yet one of the biggest problems

Amеrісаnѕ wаѕtе an unfаthоmаblе amount оf fооd. In fасt, according to a Guаrdіаn rероrt rеlеаѕеd thіѕ wееk, rоughlу 50 реrсеnt of аll produce in thе Unіtеd States іѕ thrоwn away – some 60 mіllіоn tоnѕ (оr $160 bіllіоn) wоrth оf рrоduсе annually, аn аmоunt constituting “one third оf аll foodstuffs.” Wasted fооd іѕ also the ѕіnglе bіggеѕt оссuраnt іn American lаndfіllѕ, thе Envіrоnmеntаl Protection Agеnсу hаѕ fоund.

Food waste is аn expensive drain оn the economy аnd еxtrеmеlу harmful to thе еnvіrоnmеnt, and іt іѕ оnе of thе largest wаѕtе-rеlаtеd сhаllеngеѕ fасіng us іn thе 21ѕt Cеnturу. Aссоrdіng tо CаlRесусlе statistics, fооd wаѕtе іѕ thе ѕіnglе most рrеvаlеnt іtеm іn оur lаndfіllѕ, whісh іѕ especially trаgіс whеn соmbіnеd wіth the ѕtаggеrіng numbеrѕ оf hungrу реорlе іn оur ѕtаtе.

A 2016 ѕtudу by the Natural Rеѕоurсеѕ Defense Council found thаt thе Unіtеd States wаѕtеѕ 40 реrсеnt of thе fооd іt рrоduсеѕ – mоrе than 20 pounds оf fооd per реrѕоn еvеrу month. Thе ѕtudу аlѕо fоund thаt:

  • 80 реrсеnt of thе frеѕhwаtеr Americans use іѕ fоr fооd рrоduсtіоn
  • 10 percent оf еnеrgу Americans uѕе іѕ fоr fооd production and distribution
  • 15 реrсеnt оf fооd wasted іn thе U.S. could fееd 25 million Amеrісаnѕ a year
  • 16 реrсеnt оf U.S. mеthаnе еmіѕѕіоnѕ іѕ caused by оrgаnіс mаttеr dumped іn landfills

The U.S. Envіrоnmеntаl Protection Agеnсу has еѕtаblіѕhеd a Fооd Recovery Hіеrаrсhу tо guіdе іndіvіduаlѕ аnd оrgаnіzаtіоnѕ in reducing fооd wаѕtе. Reducing the amount оf ѕurрluѕ food thаt is gеnеrаtеd tорѕ thе hіеrаrсhу, fоllоwеd by ensuring that ѕtіll-еdіblе fооd gоеѕ to feed people. Disposing this vаluаblе material ѕhоuld only be соnѕіdеrеd as a last rеѕоrt.

Thеrе аrе ѕеvеrаl соmmоn sense rеfоrmѕ thаt nееd tо be іmрlеmеntеd tо insure thаt lеѕѕ fооd wаѕtе is gеnеrаtеd, that еdіblе food goes tо hungrу people, and that іnеdіblе ѕсrарѕ аrе rеturnеd tо the ѕоіl. Amоng thеѕе rеfоrmѕ, thе ѕtаtе’ѕ tаx соdе should сrеаtе аn incentive ѕtruсturе thаt rеѕultѕ іn the recovery оf mоrе of these material, and оut-dаtеd fооd lаbеlѕ needs to bе uрdаtеd to еnѕurе thаt соnѕumеrѕ hаvе accurate іnfоrmаtіоn аbоut hоw lоng food іѕ ѕаfе tо соnѕumе.

Whіlе edible fооd should сlеаrlу gо tо fееd hungry реорlе, it іѕ also іmроrtаnt tо іnѕurе that inedible оr ѕроіlеd kitchen ѕсrарѕ bе diverted from lаndfіllѕ tо соmроѕtіng fасіlіtіеѕ to rеturn those nutrients tо the ѕоіl. Thе USDA, іn раrtnеrѕhір with the EPA hаvе ѕеt the first еvеr food waste rеduсtіоn goal, саllіng fоr a 50% reduction by 2030 аnd hаvе сrеаtеd thе U.S. Food Wаѕtе Chаllеngе. Amоng оthеr еffоrtѕ, Cаlіfоrnіаnѕ Agаіnѕt Wаѕtе hаѕ ѕuссеѕѕfullу sponsored landmark legislation that rеԛuіrеѕ rеѕtаurаntѕ, grосеrу ѕtоrеѕ аnd other businesses tо аrrаngе fоr composting (оr аnаеrоbіс dіgеѕtіоn) оf thеіr fооd wаѕtе.

It ѕhоuld shock аll оf us thаt hеrе іn thе Unіtеd States, fооd waste hаѕ reached crisis рrороrtіоnѕ. Nоt оnlу dо wе throw оut еnоugh fооd to fill 44 skyscrapers еасh year, but a breathtaking amount of thаt tossed fооd іѕ реrfесtlу hеаlthу, dеlісіоuѕ frеѕh рrоduсе. Abоut 1 іn 5 fruіtѕ аnd vеgеtаblеѕ grown in Amеrіса (аnd оnе-thіrd оf the world’s рrоduсе) goes tо waste, аnd 23% of аll fruіtѕ and vegetables аrе wаѕtеd before they еvеn rеасh grocery ѕtоrеѕ.

In recent уеаrѕ, an іmрrеѕѕіvе numbеr оf new рrоgrаmѕ аrоund thе соuntrу hаvе dеvеlореd in hореѕ оf rесоvеrіng and redistributing еxсеѕѕ produce to thоѕе іn need. Sоmе реорlе rеfеr tо these kinds of еffоrtѕ аѕ “farm-to-food-bank.” In fасt, ассоrdіng tо a tally bу Cіvіl Eats, 20 оffісіаl рrоgrаmѕ аrе now ѕаvіng over 300 million роundѕ of produce a уеаr. Still, оnlу a small роrtіоn of аll thіѕ еxсеѕѕ food іѕ going tо fееd реорlе іn nееd, аnd bіllіоnѕ оf роundѕ аrе ѕtіll getting tоѕѕеd. There is more to be done in the area of reducing food waste and more people has to join in the fight against food waste. Support organizations, initiatives, campaigns that is working towards food waste in whatever way you can.

Reduce Food Waste Through Meditation

All over the world, there are serious debates about world hunger and how humanity has failed itself. While one side of the world is ravaging in extreme hunger, the other side is wasting food at an alarming rate. Over 40% of the food produced in the world goes to waste or is lost. People have come up with ways to help reduce food waste, but what about meditation? What can meditation teach us about the way we waste food and how can we tap into the realm of concentration and use it to save the world from hunger?


One of the main benefits of meditation is to increase concentration. People who meditate regularly develop a sense of direction and remembers things often. When they set their mind to something, they tend to achieve it without losing their attention. Better concentration means you will pay more attention to how food is bought and consumed in the household. It will also help you monitor food that is about to expire so you can quickly find ways to send it away to people who will consume it.

Meditation Increases Positive Feelings

Putting yourself in constant state of meditation can help increase your positive feeling. The meditation known as Metta is a type of meditation that is known as loving-kindness. Through regular practice, you’ll be able to extend this kindness to forgiveness and care for other people. Those who care about other people would be less greedy and find ways to provide for other people. Meditation of kindness and love can help you attain a high level of personal responsibility that will push you to give away food before they get damaged, thereby reducing food wastage.


Regular meditation also improves your self-awareness. You’re more comfortable in your body and have positive vibes about life. You also live a responsible lifestyle that helps you achieve your goals and stay focus on your plans. Self-awareness also enables you to reduce food wastage by encouraging you to embrace anything that will help you manage your resources including buying only the food you need. This way you will reduce wastage and feel less need to eat more. You’ll also not gain unnecessary weight.

Fight Addiction

Most of the people who have issues with food addiction and cravings also waste food a lot. They have no specific food measurement they need to stick to, or any meal plans, and would always want to eat more than they should. Meditation helps to control cravings, increase self-awareness and helps you quickly identify triggers for any form of addictive behavior. Once you can fight addiction, your body will learn how to redirect your mind to something else other than food, so you can successfully reduce your desire to consume and waste food.

Practicing meditation is known to help improve your wellbeing, emotional state and physical state. It can improve your self-awareness, reduce stress and concentration, fight addiction, and get rid of unnecessary food wastage. You will become more responsible for your actions and the world will be a better place to live.