Food Waste in the Corporate sector – A perspective from UC Berkeley Students!

Food, Equity, Entrepreneurship, & Development (FEED) is a food justice consulting student organization in UC Berkeley. In spring 2019, we continued our partnership with Outside2Inside to determine how we can best expand the impact and outreach of current and new programs to corporations in a variety of different industries in the Bay Area. When we first began our project, we examined food waste trends in the bay area. Through our research we found that one of the primary sources of food waste stems from widespread expectations of perfection among retailers and consumers that prompts corporations to reject produce that may be misshapen. From there, we applied these findings to inform further research on the industries in which these trends are most prevalent within. Our results included information on the aerospace, entertainment, catering, hospitality, agriculture, grocery, manufacturing, education, and large companies. Based on the average amount of food wasted in pounds and cost of food waste, we determined that the hospitality, catering, and grocery industries had the most potential for food waste management improvements.

Champions 12.3, a coalition of business and government leaders interested in reducing food waste, compiled a report that examined financial cost and benefit data for 86 sites in six countries where waste-reduction practices had been employed. They found that for every $1 that a catering company isn’t spending on food waste reduction, $6 of food will be wasted. This indicates just how much waste occurs within the catering industry, signaling to us an opportunity to make changes that could help reduce their impact. When we were coming up with programs we could potentially implement, we used this as a core goal to inform that ripe or misshapen produce, is still nutritional and just as delicious. When we came up with Farm2Work, it stemmed from the existing Farm2School program in O2I that brought produce to school children in hopes of educating them that wonky produce was just as good. Farm2Work aims to bring wonky produce to the workforce for the convenience of the corporate employees and to help farmers sell off any leftover produce they might not otherwise have been able to sell. In general, poor collaboration among all players in the field where farmers may be harvesting earlier or more than usual leading to a supply in stores that cannot sell as much. Through this experience and learning about food waste, we have learned a lot about how consumer’s standards shape how much food waste occurs. Throughout the bay area, we found food waste in grocery chains that were local and even places we shop at.

This made us feel like we should make a more conscious effort to buy wonky produce because we know that it is just as good for us and the environment. In addition to informing consumers about the viability and nutrition of misshapen produce, another aspect of food waste prevention we took on was raising awareness of methods for disposing food scraps. In particular, we dealt with spreading composting as a means to discard food scraps rather than landfilling. With the great program that Outside2Inside currently has in educating individuals on the process of compost, we looked to expand this into the corporate world. Similar to Farm2Work, another program was created with the goal of bringing composting to corporates in the Bay Area. Named Compost4You, this program seeks to increase company awareness and engagement in food waste reduction by implementing composting programs for companies that need them. This program was created out of alignment with the previous core values discussed, aiming to fundamentally reduce food waste and decrease the harmful effects of landfilling.


Food waste to Animal Feed – A Berkeley Student Research

With staggering amounts of food waste in America entering landfills, new methods for recycling this food waste are continually arising and developing. The process of recycling food waste into use for animal feed is one with little research or real world implementations, but has promising potential as a main diversion source of food waste. While there is much more to be discovered and explored in this process of conversion, some success stories do stand as an example on how to effectively transform the food scraps from grocery stores, restaurants, and households to the nutritious animal feed on farms. As members of FEED, a food equity consulting club at Berkeley, we took a look a these programs in the Bay Area and around the country to examine what tactics should be used as a model for similar future programs.

Local efforts to convert this food waste to animal feed consist of mostly small, informal, and intermittent transitions. We were able to contact small bay area animal farms such as Leland St. Farms, to examine how they are accepting recycled scraps. This small scale-pig farm sources 90% of their pig feed from a local produce market called Andy’s, collected in a large bin and transported to the farm via tractor. The farmers that their grain purchases are minimal and their pigs are extremely healthy due to the minimal effort taken to collecting this otherwise wasted food. Devil’s Gulch Ranch, a similarly small pig farm in Marin, receives unused food from Marin Food Bank, grain from Almanac Brewery and Magnolia Brewery, and cheese from Marin Cheese Farm. All donations are left in large bins at these locations and workers drive trucks to pick them up about every other week. The farmers taking advantage of freely available recyclable food waste boast its benefits of lower costs and even better animal health. However, due to a lack of existing organization, they have only been able to achieve this through self-initiative and funding for sourcing and retrieving this food.

In looking for more established and formal food waste recycling methods, we found FoodShift. This Alameda sourced organization began a program to pick up food waste from a partnered grocery store Andronico’s and delivers to St Vincent de Paul’s to feed the hungry. Food Shift reported that “In the first three months of the program, over 44,000 lbs of food was collected, including melons, apples, oranges, lettuce, granola bars and more. Andronico’s determined that the quantity of waste in their dumpsters had declined so dramatically that the store could reduce their number of garbage and compost pick ups to three days per week, which can save them almost $27,000 each year”. While this food was not take to farms, the success of Food Shift is a strong representation of the sustainability and cost efficiency of programs that divert food waste from grocery stores.

We then looked at another food waste success, Rutgers University, to see how the school converts its own cafeteria’s food waste into animal feed. Located in New Jersey, Rutgers University has partnered its dining halls with a local farm called Pinter Farms. After each meal, Rutgers staff takes the scraps from the food into a trough in the kitchen. This trough moves both this food and also used napkins into a pulper which grinds all of the waste together and removes the excess water from the mix. This process reduces the volume of the waste, which is then taken to barrels to be taken to Pinter. Pinter Farms is closeby, less than 15 miles away from the university, and this process of recycling the university’s food waste and using it as animal feed at Rutgers has been going on for over 50 years. Every day, representatives from this farm come to Rutgers’ campus and collect around one ton of food scraps from the university’s four dining halls, feeding it to the farm’s hogs and cattle. This cuts the price of sending these food scraps to the landfill by more than one half, so not only does less food get wasted, but the university also saves a significant amount of money through this partnership.

We found all of this research to be quite useful in helping Outside2Inside form a solid plan for the conversion of food waste to animal feed. The bottom line is that there are indeed ways that we can recycle the food that we eat rather than letting it waste away, and established organizations are already implementing programs to do so. It is up to us to spread this information and start up more and more of these programs to continue to reduce food waste in an effective and efficient way by feeding it to farm animals.

– Ava and Maddie

UC Berkeley – FEED Consultants


Food Waste Conversion to Animal Feed – A Berkeley students persepctive

As a freshman studying business and music, I wasn’t sure exactly sure what to expect when I began my four years at Berkeley. Everything changed when I joined several different communities on campus: the jazz band, CAL Dragon Boat, and FEED. FEED, an undergraduate consulting club that promotes food justice and sustainability, assigned me to a project team that would be working with Outside2Inside. Our goal was to research and implement the conversion of food waste into animal feed. The first few months our work was almost entirely composed of research. Specifically, we looked into the most common farm animals and their diets, researched the legalities behind food waste, and explored the various processes that can be used to convert food waste into animal feed. While the latter topic was by far the most complex, it was also one of the most interesting subjects to research.

During our research, we discovered that treatment methods for converting food waste into animal feed can be grouped into three main categories: wet-based, dry-based, and ensiliing/fermentation. After exploring each of these categories, we came to the conclusion that dehydration and ensiling processes are the best methods for converting produce waste into animal feed because they can be used on a wide range of produce, do not lead to significant nutrient loss, preserve perishable product for long-term storage, and are low-cost options that can be performed on a smaller scale. We also found that these options are especially suitable for apples, bananas, grapes, tomatoes, and brewers grain.

However, the conversion of animal feed into food waste was especially fascinating to me because there was no clear-but best method. Each process has its pros and cons, some creating waste of their own such as plastic or wooden bales and other releasing toxic gases. For example dehydration was an effective and resourceful conversion method but it lacked the ability to convert large amounts of food waste and only accepted certain types of waste (i.e. no bones of avocado pits). On the other hand, ensiling could convert large amounts of grass crops but produced toxic gasses. Unlike dehydration whiantach could be performed overnight, ensiling has the potential to take weeks to become edible. This trade-off was fascinating in the sense that it forces each company to consider their own output of waste and potential to purchase conversion equipment.

While gaining a comprehensive understanding of these converters required time and thorough research, we had the opportunity to take on the role of consultants as we considered the advantages and disadvantages of each method and worked towards formulating suggestions grounded in accurate information.

– Collin and Haley

UC Berkeley – FEED Consultants


UC Berkeley – FEED partnership with Outside2Inside!

FEED is an undergraduate consulting club at UC Berkeley that promotes sustainable impact by working with organizations and enterprises that are redefining the food system. Throughout each semester, we have projects that require market research, product development and other methodologies… We also host campus events and write on our blog to promote food justice awareness. Last year, we were recognized as the “Outstanding Community Partner” by the Basic Needs Committee. We also helped spearhead a national award-winning campaign on hunger and homelessness, and hosted the Impossible Foods Burger Tour.

In the spring of 2018, FEED partnered with Outside2Inside (O2I) because we admire its commitment towards prevention of food waste and making food accessible to all. A team of six consultants and two project managers worked with O2I on multiple projects with primary focus on the pilot launch of Farm2School (F2S) Program. The FEED team was divided into three smaller committees, namely Outreach, Marketing and F2S Pilot. While the Outreach Committee helped research potential local farms, schools and colleges for O2I to expand, the Marketing Committee worked on analyzing and enhancing O2I’s online/social media presence and the Pilot Committee organized the logistics of the pilot F2S program. We kept close contact with O2I and met regularly. This helped to better understand the project requirements and exchange ideas and suggestions. Some of our work included developing a pitch for middle school students, designing flyers and promotional materials, constructing a social media strategy, and helping out in any way possible to make the Farm2School Pilot program a success.

The FEED team thoroughly enjoyed working with Outside2Inside and also learnt a lot from the experience. At O2I, they are incredibly passionate about reducing food waste through their mission of prevention, recovery, and recycling. They were always available, willing to connect and have meetings with us in case of any queries. Our team members were able to expand their skills in design, marketing, outreach, communications and research. The F2S project was a successful one which in turn resulted in a win-win situation for both the parties.

This fall semester, we have a team of both returning consultants and new consultants working with Outside2Inside on a project to convert produce waste from agricultural farms to animal feed that can be consumed by farm animals. This will involve research on food waste trends, the technical process of recycling produce waste, outreach to nearby farms, and the legalities of creating and distributing animal feed. We are happy and excited to be continuing our partnership with Outside2Inside!

–              By Susie Warner & Rachel Bosnyak

(Susie Warner: Vice President of Publicity & Recruiting – FEED, Rachel Bosnyak: Vice President of Food Justice – FEED)