Business and Markets

Aspen First Mover Fellow Tackles Food Waste While Feeding the Food Insecure

June 23, 2015  • Trisha King

Today marks the launch of the 7th class of Aspen Institute First Mover Fellows, leaders who represent diverse functional responsibilities such as legal, finance, design, business development, and talent management. These bold individuals join a growing community of 130 intrapreneurs, driving change inside their companies.

Read below to learn about Megan Burritt’s Fellowship project, aimed at reducing food waste.

As much as 40 percent of all the food produced in the United States never gets eaten and typically ends up in landfills or goes unharvested in the field, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Megan Burritt, Aspen Institute First Mover Fellow and director of sustainability and wellness at Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, saw an opportunity to address this issue, developing pathways that connect fresh food waste in the supply chain with food insecure consumers. This led the company to design a new program, dubbed “Real Good” produce, to sell imperfect fruits and vegetables to food insecure customers, at a highly discounted price.

Above, learn why almost half of food grown in America never makes it to market and watch the Raley’s supermarket announcement of its new plan to tackle this food waste.

Burritt developed this pioneering initiative, which kicks off in July, as part of her Fellowship innovation project. Raley’s is one of the first major retailers in the US to introduce a program of this nature.

“Fifty million Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” notes Paul Ash, San Francisco-Marin Food Bank director. Raley’s new strategy aims to reduce that number by providing fresh, healthy, and affordable food to customers located in close proximity to food deserts, a term describing communities with few fresh produce options.

“Raley’s is proud to take a meaningful step forward to help reduce food waste in our country,” said Burritt. “Our ‘Real Good’ produce will educate our customers about the food system, offer our growers a new pathway to market their produce, and provide greater access to produce that is aesthetically imperfect, but just as flavorful and nutritious.”

This innovative business strategy is just one example of how First Mover Fellows are working to create new products, services, and management practices that will achieve greater profitability for their companies and deliver positive social and environmental impact.

To learn more about how these innovators are changing business from the inside out, visit our website: www.aspeninstitute.org/FirstMovers. Join the conversation on Twitter using @AspenBizSociety and #AIFirstMovers

Trisha King is a program coordinator for the Aspen Institute Business & Society Program.