Meeting the nutritional needs of current and future generations requires innovations to ensure access to healthy and nutritious food while creating equitable value chains and supporting climate and environmental sustainability.
Food waste is a major problem in the U.S., and young adults are among the worst culprits. Many of them attend college or university and live on campus, making dining halls a prime target for waste reduction efforts. And a simple intervention can make a big difference, a University of Illinois study shows.
Shifting from round to oval plates with a smaller surface area can significantly reduce food waste in dining halls, says Brenna Ellison, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE) and co-author on the study.
Food waste in the home can often occur because of boredom or limited knowledge of how to use certain ingredients. A consumer may have leftovers in their fridge that they don’t want to waste, but can’t bear to eat one more time in the item’s current form while simultaneously not knowing how to repurpose the item for a new dish. Or perhaps they’ve acquired an edible item that’s completely new to them, so they’re not sure how to use it in the first place.
By-products from the beer industry can be used in agriculture to improve soil quality and increase crop yields, according to a study published by a team of Spanish researchers. The team is keen to explore what other types of waste can be used in a similar manner.
Renewable, clean hydrogen could cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel by up to 34%, reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and plenty of developers are racing to commercialize their own version of this low- to zero-carbon alternative fuel, usually leveraging electricity. Though some entrepreneurs have begun making hydrogen from waste—usually dry materials. But start up Electro-Active is making it from food waste, combined with electricity.
I’ve been researching how public libraries address food insecurity – what happens when households can’t acquire adequate food because they can’t afford it or can’t access it for other reasons. Across the board, these efforts emerge from community partnerships with organizations that include school districts and food banks.
As Kristin Warzocha, president of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, explained in 2016, “We have the food, and they have the patrons who need it.”
Lunch at the library
The earliest example of this kind I’ve found dates back 35 years. In 1986, the Nelsonville branch of the Athens County Public Library in southeastern Ohio began serving federally funded lunches in the summertime to children to ensure that they don’t go hungry.
Ten sustainability-focused startups were selected to receive a total of $2.5 million in funding from The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger/Zero Waste Foundation Innovation Fund. Agua Bonita, Renewal Mill and Take Two are among brands to receive support in pioneering and accelerating solutions to reduce food waste while improving food security.
Each startup will be awarded $100,000 in upfront seed grant funding and will participate in a virtual workshop and networking with investors and mentors across the food system. The participants will be eligible for an additional $100,000 grant based on the achievement of identified program milestones. At the end of the six-month milestone development period, two startups will be selected for an opportunity to receive an additional $250,000 in funding.