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Food Waste

Eating more of what we grow, harvest and produce


From seeding the Green Revolution that fed a billion people across Asia and South America in the 1950s and 60s, to launching the Alliance for a Green Revolution Africa (AGRA) a decade ago, The Rockefeller Foundation has been committed to strengthening the intersection of food security, economic development, and resilience.  But we recognize that no other gains can be sustained unless we also address food loss and waste. Globally, a full one-third of all food produced goes uneaten. In 2016, The Rockefeller Foundation launched YieldWise Food Loss, a $130 million initiative, with the goal of demonstrating how the world can halve food loss by 2030, one of the UN’s sustainable development goals. 

In the U.S., nearly 40% of our food supply is wasted every year. At the same time, 41 million Americans—including 13 million children—lack consistent access to adequate food. Wasted food represents wasted resources: one-fifth of our freshwater supply and nearly one-fifth of our cropland is used to produce food that does not get eaten. When that food is thrown away, it takes up 20% of our landfills where it emits tons of methane, a greenhouse gas 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. We know that if we want to sustainably nourish the world without breaking the back of our planet, we must start eating more of what we grow, harvest and produce.

The good news is that solutions to prevent food waste exist, and a growing movement is helping to implement these solutions at scale. Through our Yieldwise initiative, we are collaborating with cities, private sector leaders, designers, food rescue organizations to reduce wasted food, provide healthy wholesome food to those in need, and converse vital natural resources. With our support, Yieldwise partners have:

  • Developed tools to support food waste reduction across the hospitality industry. Solutions were demonstrated at 10 hotel properties across the country, and participating properties saw food waste go down by 17-38% after just 12 weeks. An industry-wide toolkit is now available so that hotels can scale these approaches around the world.
  • Analyzed current levels of food waste in homes, businesses, and institutions, and examined the potential to ramp up food rescue in 3 major U.S. cities—Nashville, Denver and New York City. The robust methodology developed through this work will help cities all around the world to better understand how, where and why wasted food is occurring in their cities.
  • Developed the first-ever Zero Waste Design Guidelines to help designers, real estate developers and building managers better integrate responsible waste management and separation into building operations.
  • Created a Further with Food, an online knowledge hub for research, case studies and tools related to food waste.

68% of food thrown out by households that participated in NRDC’s baseline study was potentially edible

Hotel properties that participated in our food waste prevention projects saw a 17-38% reduction in food waste in 12 weeks

76% of Americans think they waste less than the average American

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