Tag Archives: food


One of the major challenges faced during the implementation of food waste reduction strategies was changing public behavior and mindsets around food. For many years, most people have viewed excess food as unimportant and not given much thought to wasting it. Things like clearing one’s plate, over-ordering at restaurants, or throwing out old leftovers and expired foods were ingrained habits. Shifting such habitual behaviors requires a significant mindset change, which can be difficult to achieve. It requires sustained education campaigns to raise awareness of the issue and its impacts, as well as motivation for people to adjust their daily food-related routines and habits.

Another behavioral challenge is that reducing food waste often requires more planning and coordination within households. Things like meticulously planning out meals, sticking to grocery lists, adjusting portion sizes, and making better use of leftovers necessitates more effort and time compared to past habits. While improving skills like meal planning, it is an adjustment that not everyone finds easy to make. For families with both parents working long hours, seeking convenience is also an understandable priority, leaving little time or energy for meticulous waste-reduction efforts.

From a business and operations perspective, one challenge is the lack of reliable data on food waste amounts. Most organizations, whether food manufacturers, grocery retailers or food service companies, have historically not tracked the scale of food that gets wasted within their facilities and supply chains. Without robust baseline data, it is difficult to analyze root causes, identify priorities and set meaningful targets for improvement. Some have also been hesitant to publicly share waste data for risk of reputational damage. The lack of common measurement standards has made industry-wide benchmarking and goal setting a challenge.

On the policy front, the mixed competencies shared between different levels and departments of government have made coordinated action difficult. Food waste touches on the responsibilities of agriculture, environment, waste collection, business regulations, public awareness campaigns and more. There is sometimes lack of clarity on who should take the lead, and duplication or gaps can occur between different actors. The complexity with multiple stakeholders across many domains further impedes swift, aligned policy progress to drive systemic changes.

Even when strategies are set, enforcement is a big challenge especially related to food date labeling policies. Standardizing and simplifying date labels to distinguish between ‘Best Before’ – indicating quality rather than safety – and ‘Use By’ date is an important intervention. Inconsistent application of new labeling rules by some in the vast food industry has undermined the effectiveness of this policy change to reduce consumer confusion and subsequent waste. Stronger compliance mechanisms are needed.

From a technological standpoint, while innovative solutions are emerging, scaling these up to have meaningful impact requires extensive investments of time and capital. Food redistribution through apps needs to overcome challenges like adequate coverage, logistical issues in arranging pick ups, necessity of refrigerated transportation, and standardizing quality parameters of donor and recipient organizations. Similarly, food waste valorization is still at a nascent, experimental phase with challenges of developing financially viable business models at commercial scale. These solutions are also capital intensive to set up advanced processing facilities.

Even simple measures like home composting have faced adoption challenges due to requirements like space, installation efforts, maintenance skills and concerns over pests and smells. Compostable packaging is not universally available and green bins for food scrap collection are not scaled up widely in all geographies to make participation easy. Expanded waste collection infrastructure requires substantial capital allocations by local governments already facing budget constraints.

From a supply chain coordination perspective, a key challenge is data and technology integration across the long and complex path food takes from farms to processing units to transport networks to retailers to finally consumers. Lack of end-to-end visibility impedes root cause analysis of where and why waste is originating. It also restricts opportunities for collaborative optimization of inventory, ordering and demand planning practices to minimize food left unconsumed at any stage. Silos between different entities and lack of incentives for open data sharing have hampered integrated solutions.

Reducing food waste faces behavioral, operational, policy-related, technological, financial as well as supply chain coordination challenges. It requires multifaceted, long-term efforts spanning awareness drives, standardized measurement, supportive regulations, scaled infrastructure, collaborative innovation and adaptability to local conditions. The complexity of root causes necessitates system-wide cooperation between industry, governments, researchers and communities to achieve meaningful impact over time. While progress has been made, continued dedication of resources and coordination between different stakeholders remains important to sustain momentum in tackling this massive global issue.


One innovative program that addresses the issue of food insecurity among college students is FarmHouse Delivery at the University of Missouri. The program was started in 2018 by a group of students as a social entrepreneurship project. It functions as a grocery delivery service that provides healthy, affordable food options to students on campus. Students can order groceries through an app and have them delivered directly to their dorm or campus apartment within a few hours.

FarmHouse sources its products from local farms and producers to keep costs low. This gives students access to fresh fruits and vegetables as well as pantry staples. It aims to fill the gaps between dining hall meals at an affordable price point. Pricing and partnership with the university’s food bank helps make healthy groceries accessible to low-income students as well. The student-run operation models sustainable business practices and food systems education. It has grown steadily since inception and continues to address campus hunger through an entrepreneurial solution.

Another notable program is Student Emergency Services (SES) at the University of California, Berkeley. Founded in 2010 by three students, SES operates a food pantry and meal delivery service for students experiencing food and housing insecurity. Like FarmHouse Delivery, it relies on a student-run cooperative business model. SES collects food donations from campus dining halls and local supermarkets which it redistributes free of charge to students in need via the on-campus pantry.

Through its Bear Necessities program, SES delivers free emergency food bags to students unable to physically access the pantry due to issues like illness, disability or lack of transportation. This service helps address barriers to accessing campus food resources. Students sign up online and receive groceries hand-delivered to their dorm within a few hours. SES is a non-profit that raises operating funds through campus fundraising and donations. It exemplifies how entrepreneurial problem-solving by students can directly help peers facing financial hardship.

Another standout program is the Locker Project at Seattle University. Launched in 2016 through a student initiative and now run in partnership with the campus dining department, it provides free food storage lockers across campus. The lockers are stocked daily with non-perishable foods, toiletries and menstrual products donated by the university community. Students can anonymously take what they need from the lockers at any time without stigma or paperwork. This innovative approach eliminates obstacles to discreetly accessing resources on demand.

The founders designed the Locker Project specifically with food-insecure students’ experiences, needs and perspectives in mind. Maintained through student and university staff volunteers, it fills an important gap, as many college students grapple with intermittent or unpredictable access to food. By normalizing the lockers as convenient additions to campus rather than solutions only for those facing hardship, it helps further reduce stigma. The program has effectively addressed institutional knowledge gaps around student hunger through grassroots, empathetic entrepreneurship.

A program with broader institutional support is the Grocery On-the-Go Market at Iowa State University. Launched in 2016, it is a partnership between Dining Services, the Dean of Students office and student groups. The market operates out of a custom-built food truck that parks in alternating high-traffic campus locations for set weekly hours. Students can purchase pre-packaged fresh, canned and dry goods at discounted prices using dining dollars, cash or credit. Partnerships with local anti-hunger organizations allow the market to offer select culturally appropriate frozen meal options as well.

Unlike most food banks or pantries, the market avoids stigma by being open to all students, not just those facing need. Its entrepreneurial approach of meeting students where they are has proven popular—serving hundreds per week and freeing up resources for other initiatives to coordinate with. The on-campus employer hires work-study eligible students, promoting leadership and skills development too. By bridging various student and campus partners campus-wide through an innovative model, Grocery On-the-Go Market effected positive change on multiple levels.

These programs demonstrate some creative ways that students themselves are developing solutions to food insecurity on campuses through social entrepreneurship. By directly addressing gaps, reducing stigma and empowering peers in need, they are making a tangible difference. Partnering with various campus and community stakeholders allows these initiatives to operate sustainably while continually improving services. Their innovative, action-oriented models inform how future programs and university policies could better serve students facing basic needs barriers to academic success. Student entrepreneurship shows great potential to address this pressing issue in impactful yet pragmatic ways.


Sustainable agricultural practices ensure the long-term viability and productivity of farmland. Conventional industrial agricultural methods like monocropping and the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides deplete soil nutrients and can lead to soil erosion over time. This makes the land unsuitable for farming. Sustainable practices like crop rotation, minimal tillage, organic matter addition, and avoiding overgrazing preserve and build up the fertility and quality of soil so it remains productive. Healthy soil is essential to support robust yields year after year to meet food demand.

By maintaining soil health and biodiversity above and below ground, sustainable agriculture protects the ecosystem services that crops rely on. Things like pollination, natural pest and disease control by predators, nutrient cycling, water purification and drainage are all ecosystem services impacted by farming. Agroecology focuses on fostering these services through practices like integrating livestock and crops together, planting habitat corridors and borders, maintaining hedgerows.Reliance on living ecological processes make sustainable farms more resilient to stresses like drought or pests.

Sustainable techniques improve water management and conservation. Problems like water pollution, aquifer depletion, and irrigation inefficiency that stem from conventional agriculture threaten long-term water security in many regions. Organic matter helps soil retain moisture better. Drip irrigation, contour plowing, grassed waterways, rainwater harvesting, and wetland restoration are some sustainable strategies for optimal land and water resource use into the future. As water becomes scarce in more areas,maximizing efficient use of this vital crop input through natural means will bolster agriculture’s adaptive capacity.

Sustainable farms promote biodiversity above and below ground. This includes varieties of crops as well as wild plants, insects, soil microbes that sustain crop health and yield consistency. Crop diversity provides complimentary synergies, insurance against total crop failure, and genetic resources for plant breeding. Monocultures are highly sensitive to new pest and disease outbreaks as they offer no resistance. Seed saving and farming heritage crops preserve a wide pool of genotypes that future farmers can tap into as climate changes and new challenges emerge. On-farm biodiversity also maintains these support systems around crops.

Organic and regenerative farming methods improve crop nutrition by increasing soil organic matter levels and biological activity over time. This allows crops to derive nutrients from dynamic living systems more productively than continual synthetic fertilizer application. It also prevents nutrient pollution of the environment from chemical runoff. Nutritionally dense foods make for overall healthier, more resilient communities that are better able to sustain their food supply themselves rather than relying on industrially processed imports for nutrition.

By reducing dependence on fossil fuels for production inputs like pesticides and fertilizers which will eventually deplete, and employing renewable energy where possible, sustainable agriculture contributes long term farming viability in the face of rising fuel prices. It also lessens agriculture’s environmental footprint and dependence on non-renewable resources that pollute ecosystems. Organic systems demonstrate higher energy efficiency through closed nutrient cycling within farm boundaries. Sustainable farm scale and infrastructure allows localized food systems that distribute and market products with lower fossil fuel inputs than industrial agriculture reliant on long distance transport. This localized approach also strengthens rural livelihoods and food security in the face of high energy uncertainty.

Transitioning agriculture to become fully sustainable is key to achieving food security on a global scale for generations to come. Sustainable practices regenerate degraded soils, protect water and biodiversity, improve nutrition, foster community resilience, and adapt to climate threats better than conventional industrial methods. With finite land and resources around the world, shifting to an ethic of stewardship and long term land management grounded in ecological principles through practices like agroecology and organic farming offers the best chance of securing sufficient, nutritious food production within planetary boundaries now and into an uncertain future. If widely adopted, sustainable agriculture has tremendous potential to nourish people globally far into the next century and beyond.