Kirsty Hessing at the NYC Food Tank Summit: Fighting Food Loss and Food Waste

Food Recovery Network partnered with Food Tank during its NYC Summit: Preventing Food Loss and Food Waste to engage FRN chapters across the country. There were six official watch parties hosted by FRN chapters, and even one in Kenya! FRN chapter leader and Student and Alumni Advisory Board member Kirsty Hessing is a fellow for Food Tank and was able to attend the summit first-hand. Read below to learn about Kirsty’s experience:

SAAB Member, Kirsty Hessing

SAAB Member, Kirsty Hessing

As the Wagner College Food Recovery Network chapter founding President and Student and Alumni Advisory Board (SAAB) member, my interest in food waste and sustainability issues has allowed me the opportunity to speak at and attend many different conferences and summits, mostly in the company of other college-aged peers. Over the past few weeks, I spent time as a fellow for Food Tank where, as a college student, I was more so the minority. Food Tank mostly engages with professional-level leaders in the food waste and sustainability spheres.

Many of those who attended the Food Tank Summit on September 13, 2017, the first ever in New York City, were professors, entrepreneurs, chefs, press, and other interested people. I only met one other college student during the entire summit. Conversations at the summit centered around education at a young age, the introduction of new technologies and highlighting the work of innovative non-profit organizations in the field. I found myself so proud of the work FRN is doing. Multiple times throughout the conference, FRN was mentioned as a success in reducing food waste. It was wonderful to see both those familiar and new to FRN be so impressed with all the work we have done. Many didn’t realize the bridge that college campuses have between education and student initiative. Attendees and at-home viewers were inspired by the passion college students had in starting this movement themselves.

Former US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vislack discussing food waste.

Former US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vislack discussing food waste.

The summit was set up similarly to how a TED talk looks like to the online viewer. The event space was small and made you feel as though you were part of the important conversations. Having a live stream with so many moving parts really added a cool dynamic to the whole event. At-home viewers were also emphasized throughout the day, highlighting their social media posts and responding to questions submitted online. Danielle Nierenberg, Food Tank President, directly engaged at-home viewers by speaking to them directly.

My responsibilities as part of the summit included setting up and preparing volunteers the night before. Day of, I worked with the same group of volunteers as a liaison to the Food Tank directors. Many volunteers were chefs or had worked with Food Tank before. Many volunteered because they wanted to see this event first hand. I also worked with Great Performances, the catering team, to make sure they had all they needed throughout the day. My last responsibility was overseeing the compost and recycling bins with the help of Common Ground Compost. Composting, although different from food recovery, is, of course, another critical part of reducing food waste.Their team was so diligent and kind in their work throughout the day and taught me so much about what to do with specific kinds of waste. For example – did you know that because of the plastic lining inside them, Starbucks cups are not recyclable? I was surprised to learn this and is certainly information I will share with others back at Wagner College.

I encourage all FRN members, students, and alumni to follow Food Tank closely and watch their summits online when possible. Make sure to pay attention when Food Tank comes to a city near you; they always need volunteers and sometimes even fellows! The actual event is known to sell out within hours and have a waiting list of well over 1,000 people. However, being a volunteer is a great way to get into the event and share in everything in person. Even on the day of the event, I had the chance to network with many of the speakers and attendees. FRN’s work is a huge part of successfully fighting food waste and I encourage all of you to share our mission with as many people possible.

Food Tank Summit Watch Parties



FRN is excited to partner with Food Tank, a national organization that's mission is to alleviate "hunger, obesity, and poverty by creating a network of connections and information for all of us to consume and share." Throughout the country, FRN chapters and alumni will have “watch parties” to tune into Food Tank's Summit: Preventing Food Loss and Food Waste. With more than 30 confirmed speakers including John Boyd, Jr. and Tom Vilsack, FRN chapters will have the unique chance to have direct communication with some of the most influential individuals in the food recovery landscape. To register your viewing party, fill out this registration page by Thursday, September 9. Read Food Tank's press release below to learn more:

All-star lineup of food leaders and innovators gather in NYC at the WNYC Greene Space in Manhattan for a SOLD-OUT event to discuss how to stop food waste once and for all.

Food Tank, in partnership with Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED) and with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and The Fink Family Foundation, will present a one-day summit on September 13, 2017, at the WNYC Greene Space in New York City (44 Charlton St., New York, NY, 10013), titled “Focusing on Food Loss and Waste.”

Confirmed speakers include (in alphabetical order—more to be announced soon): Emily Bachman, GrowNYC; Elizabeth Balkan, NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY); John Boyd, Jr., National Black Farmers Association; Diane Brady, Bloomberg; Joan Briggs, The Fink Family Foundation; Gigi Lee Chang, FoodFutureCo; Chris Cochran, ReFED; Tom Colicchio, Craft restaurants; Karl Deily, Sealed Air; Ron Gonen, Closed Loop Partners; Alison Grantham, Blue Apron; Tony Hillery, Harlem Grown; Helen Hollyman, Vice; Lynette Johnson, Society of St. Andrews; Prasanta Kalita, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign; Justin Kamine, KDC Ag – Kamine Development Corporation; Sam Kass, Trove; Amy Keister, Compass Group; Devon Klatell, The Rockefeller Foundation; Bonnie McClafferty, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN); Jude Medeiros, Sodexo; Clare Miflin, Kiss + Cathcart; Carina Millstone, Feedback; Monica Munn, The Rockefeller Foundation; Kimbal Musk, The Kitchen; Danielle Nierenberg, Food Tank; Pete Pearson, WWF; Tinia Pina, Re-Nuble; Antonio Reynoso, New York City Councilmember; Ruth Reichl, PBS/Food Writer; Brian Roe, The Ohio State University; Christine Datz-Romero, Lower East Side Ecology Center; Kim Severson, The New York TimesStephanie Strom, The New York TimesTom Vilsack, U.S. Dairy Export Council; Brian Wansink, Cornell University; Jocelyn Zuckerman, Modern Farmer; and Konstantin Zvereff, BlueCart.

More details here:

 With about 8 million residents, New York City alone sends 4 million tons of waste to landfills each year. An estimated one-third of that waste is food. As home to Hunts Point, the largest food distribution center in the world, New York City is primed to lead the nation’s (and even the world’s) food waste movement.

The 2017 Food Tank Summit in New York, NY, will consist of dynamic panel discussions featuring a variety of speakers from around the world and exciting keynote speakers moderated by journalists from The New York Times, Vice, Bloomberg, Modern Farmer, and more. Within just four hours of announcing the event, demand was so high that Food Tank received four-times more applications than there are seats. 

Immediately following the Summit, Food Tank, in partnership with The Fink Family Foundation & Blue Hill Restaurant, will be hosting a special dinner discussion with leading thinkers such as Ruth Reichl, Sam Kass, David Barber, and Dan Barber around solutions to food waste. The evening will feature a special menu inspired by Chef Dan Barber’s wastED initiative, a pop-up devoted to the theme of re-using foods that would otherwise be wasted.

The Summit will be co-hosted by ReFED, the leading national organization dedicated to reducing U.S. food waste. In 2016, ReFED published the Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste, a landmark report that presented cost-effective solutions capable of cutting food waste by 20 percent while conserving natural resources, creating jobs, feeding the hungry, and generating $100B in economic value. ReFED now collaborates with businesses, nonprofits, and government to implement these solutions.

The Summit is also supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, which has committed $130 million through their YieldWise initiative to work with private, public, and nonprofit actors across the food supply system to cut their food loss and waste by half. Support from The Fink Family Foundation has also made this event possible.

At the New York City Food Tank Summit, audiences will have the opportunity to participate in extended question-and-answer sessions and expert journalists will moderate each panel—topics include leveraging capital to fund innovations and fill research gaps, forging creative partnerships, encouraging behavior change, and more.

The Food Tank Summit is also made possible with the support of the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, Sealed Air, Blue Apron, Organic Valley, Blue Hill Restaurant, and Niman Ranch. Food and beverage donations will come from Niman Ranch, Juice Press, Harmless Harvest, Brooklyn Roasting Co., and GT’s Kombucha.

Great Performances, a NYC-based catering and events company engaged in the principles of sustainability and food justice, is graciously donating the breakfast and lunch receptions for all attendees. The menus will reflect the company’s commitment to the reduction of food waste and the creative application of full-food utilization.

Through a national partnership, many Food Recovery Network and Oxfam Americaorganizations and chapters on more than one hundred campuses nationwide will be participating in Food Tank Summit watch parties live. Food Recovery Network is the largest student movement fighting hunger and food waste in the country. Oxfam America is a global movement of people working to end the injustice of poverty.

The following day on Thursday, September 14, 2017, Food Tank will be organizing a free public awareness event to benefit environmental nonprofit GrowNYC, featuring speakers to educate around food waste and showcasing its new dance fitness concept called Garjana at Washington Square Park (12:00 to 1:30pm). Garjana is led by a team of Broadway performers, featuring choreography from Mamma Mia’s Monica Kapoorand debuting all-original music from Douglas Romanow, whose credits include Justin Bieber, Tyga, and hundreds more. Garjana has been selling out major venues across New York and getting rave reviews from outlets ranging from Billboard, Time Out, Edible Magazine, and moreConceived by Food Tank Board Chairman Bernard Pollackwith visuals and video by award-winning film and television director Kevin Arbouet. On September 28, Garjana will be making its Brooklyn debut at House of Yes.

More details here:

Since 2015, Food Tank has convened more than 275 speakers in front of more than 2,500 in-person attendees (all of our Summits have sold out!). More than 175,000 livestream viewers have tuned in from countries around the globe, representing six continents. Major food journalists from The Washington Post, National Public Radio, The Hill, Politico, National Geographic, and more have served as panel moderators. Food Tank Summits feature major partnerships with universities including George Washington University, Tufts University, the University of Chicago, University of California-Davis, and many more. In 2018, we will continue to bring Food Tank Summits to existing and new cities including Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, New York City, New Orleans, and more.The entire NYC Food Tank Summit can also be viewed remotely FREE via Facebook Live and live on Additionally, Food Tank will be featuring backstage interviews with speakers all day using Instagram Live and Periscope/Twitter Live. After the event, all videos will be immediately archived on Food Tank’s YouTube Channel.


Food Tank is a nonprofit building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. We aim to educate, inspire, advocate, and create change. We spotlight and support environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.


ReFED is a multi-stakeholder nonprofit, powered by a network of the nation’s leading business, nonprofit, foundation, and government leaders committed to reducing U.S. food waste. ReFED takes a data-driven approach to move the food system from acting on instinct to insights to solve our national food waste problem.


For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot—or will not. To learn more, please visit

A very limited number of press passes available—contact Bernard Pollack at 312-843-8612 or at



“Don’t just learn. Engage.” The motto of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, is certainly an apt description of what the students involved in the school’s Food Recovery Network chapter do every day. Education and engagement stretch beyond the boundaries of the campus to include some thirty cities, towns, and villages in three counties of northeastern Wisconsin, known as the Fox Cities Valley. In the 2015-2017 academic years, two students, Sarah Diamond (International Relations) and Lindsay Holsen (Biochemistry and Spanish) led the FRN chapter as co-presidents. As they reflect on each other’s growth through Lawrence University and FRN, each lovingly praises the other.

Sarah and Lindsay began volunteering with FRN during their first years of college and feel that their food recovery experiences have given them “so, so much,” as Sarah puts it. “It shaped me as a person. In my professional career, hunger and food security are always going to be my bottom lines. It’s something that just makes me cringe, the fact that people are hungry.” Sarah’s hopes will come true in August when she starts her Year of Service through the AmeriCorps VISTA program with the FRN national office in College Park, Maryland.

Lindsay calls their entire team of nine students a “stellar crew.” “We had the chance to tour Feeding America in Appleton, have an annual end-of-year barbecue to celebrate our work, and definitely know how to rock a hairnet,” she recalls. Lindsay’s three years working with FRN student volunteers, partner organizations, and chefs from the Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO), the dining provider at Lawrence University, taught her to navigate ever-changing connections. “I experienced the many difficulties of maintaining relationships with groups that frequently change management. However, I have also seen so many people benefit from the food we provide and others who become more aware of the [impact of] their actions.” Lindsay, like Sarah, sees that  her work over the last three years “has shaped my dedication to serving others and working to change mindsets about waste within many aspects of society.” She will continue as the chapter’s treasurer in Fall 2017.


The Lawrence University leadership team participating in a food recovery. 


Mark Biesack stands out among the many inspirational people whom Sarah and Lindsay have met through their food recovery efforts. Mark is proud of the dramatic change he has seen over the past few years at Lawrence University. Students have more interest in what kind of food is chosen, how it is prepared, and what his staff does with items they don’t serve. Mark’s many years of experience inform his perception of food awareness at Lawrence:

“With the needs of others being highly publicized these days, people are wanting to be a part of something GOOD. This is especially true of college students. Students are asking questions and taking an interest. They want to make sure that not only are we sourcing our food responsibly, but that we are discarding it appropriately as well, whether that be composting or donating through FRN.”

Mark describes how BAMCO, before working with FRN, tried doing their own food recovery programs for the first couple years at Lawrence. Even though he built a relationship with the local Salvation Army, the logistics of recovering and donating food were difficult.

“While we had extra food to donate, we didn’t have the systems, pans, labor, or organization to make it happen on a regular basis. Now that we’ve partnered with Food Recovery Network, it’s so awesome to know that all we need to do is compile our donation, chill it down, and [the students] take care of it from there!”

Mark has a very high opinion of the FRN team with whom his staff has a “great relationship.” He especially enjoys seeing student leaders in the hallway who tell him about a new organization looking for food donations. He would very much like to increase the number of food collections from the current number of three days.


One day early in 1982, while Thomas Schlitz was driving to Green Bay, Wisconsin, he heard on the radio that 400 people were being laid off by a local company. His immediate reaction was to ask how these people were going to survive. After Schlitz saw fields full of crops around him, he had the inspiration to ask local farmers for relief donations. This generous initiative would eventually become the St. Joseph Food Program, now run by St. Joseph’s Church in Appleton, WI.

In Spring 2016, The Lawrence FRN chapter partnered with St. Joe’s (as it’s called informally) to help distribute 30 tons of fresh food and non-perishable items, per week, to the low-income and temporarily unemployed population of the Fox Cities Valley. According to Scott Schefe, the food manager at St. Joe’s, FRN volunteers delivered 118 pounds of food the first day alone. His clients “loved the food, especially since it was already prepared and portioned. It made it very easy on us.” Both St. Joe’s and the students look forward to building a stronger relationship in the 2017-2018 school year.

The chapter has also teamed with the Fox Cities Salvation Army and Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley. Sarah’s favorite memories with Boys and Girls Club were “just sitting
with and watching the kids trying new foods they had never tried before...There was one girl especially, who had never eaten a vegetable in her life. I sat with her while she ate a carrot, and told her that she could do it. She did, and was like, ‘Hey, that’s not bad!’ It’s so powerful for kids to learn about food.” Sarah views educating others about healthy eating habits as a powerful and exciting mission of the Food Recovery Network.


When Lindsay returns to Lawrence in Fall 2017, she hopes to help bring in “new leadership and energy for the group” and reach out to other organizations to increase food deliveries. From what he has already said, Executive Sous Chef Mark Bieseck will undoubtedly be in full support. Sarah Diamond is currently working full-time as the Alumni Programs VISTA on the FRN National staff. She sees Food Recovery Network as “among one of the most politically important organizations out there right now. It’s an organization that goes against the status quo and sees people as humans rather than wallets or numbers.”

Last summer, both Sarah and Lindsay attended Food Recovery Network’s annual conference, the National Food Recovery Dialogue. Sarah was especially moved when she heard a student talk about growing up not knowing from where his next meal would come. His childhood deeply affected his decision to work for FRN “to ensure that no other kid has to feel that way.” Sarah, someone who has never suffered from food insecurity, empathized with this and other speakers. Empathy is the driving force behind the selfless efforts of the Lawrence FRN team.

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Lawrence University FRN attends the National Food Recovery Dialogue

Active Citizenship: Not Just for Volunteers

“Even in the relatively small, but growing, food justice circle, there exists a plethora of career options that utilize a wide variety of skill sets, all working toward the same end goal of creating a more sustainable and just food system.”
— Louisa Kimmell

When one thinks of the term “active citizenship”, images of protests, rallies, and petitions may first come to mind, perhaps followed by visions of serving food at the local soup kitchen, or volunteering every week at a nursing home. This summer, through the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, I had the opportunity to work at Food Recovery Network (FRN) and frame the idea of active citizenship in the context of a career. While it is always important to volunteer in your community and fight for causes you care about in your spare time, it seems that more and more people of my generation are hoping to build a career around this idea of active citizenship, and devote their professional lives to important societal issues. And the good news I have learned this summer is that this is becoming more of a viable option, and there isn’t just one way to do it.

Many of my fellow classmates in the Tisch Summer Fellows program are also seeking opportunities in civic-oriented careers - whether it be working for the League of Women Voters, the Asia Foundation, or the National Housing and Rehabilitation Center, to name a few. Due to my interest in environmental and human health issues, FRN was my first choice of placement for this summer, and working here has pushed me to think a lot about how I can make my own personal impact in this field and pursue active citizenship long term through a career.

FRN staff members gleaning cucumbers from a family farm in Federalsburg, MD

FRN staff members gleaning cucumbers from a family farm in Federalsburg, MD

One important observation I’ve made this summer is that there isn’t just one type of person or one set of skills that is needed in civic-minded careers such as those in the food justice space.  Even in the relatively small, but growing, food justice circle, there exists a plethora of career options that utilize a wide variety of skill sets, all working toward the same end goal of creating a more sustainable and just food system.   

In just FRN’s office alone, our small team brings forth many different skills, including GIS mapping, social media and communications work, web design, fundraising, event planning, outreach, data collection and analysis, financial management, and organizational leadership. The office consists of people with different educational and professional backgrounds, but all with the shared goal of expanding food recovery and donation, one subset of food justice work.

Tori Wong working on FRN’s Chapter Overview Map

Tori Wong working on FRN’s Chapter Overview Map

When asked about the significance of her work doing GIS mapping for FRN, my co-worker Tori Wong, another Tisch Summer Fellow, said, “Learning new GIS software for my fellowship at Food Recovery Network has shown me how important and powerful maps can be in the nonprofit sector. My work here has even inspired me to change my class schedule and take an advanced GIS course when I return to Boston in the fall to finish my Master’s program.”

And GIS isn’t the only skill that has a hidden importance in the food justice movement. In addition to skills that are more commonly associated with food justice, such as food science, community organizing, and non-profit management, there are plenty of other skill sets that are just as important, and beginning to have a greater presence in the field. App/software developers, for example, are in increasingly higher demand, as apps have been monumental in making recoveries and donations more efficient. Similarly, business, entrepreneurial, and marketing skills are needed to create innovative business models, or sell products and services, that help reduce both producer and consumer food waste.

Beyond this, there are many skills that may not be stereotypically associated with mission driven fields, but are actually in high demand, meaning that your degree and skill set may give you more options than you think. Active citizenship no longer has to occupy only the limited free time we have to volunteer on the side, but instead can be the basis for a fulfilling, lifelong career committed to the causes that are most important to us and to our generation.

Introducing the Student and Alumni Advisory Board


We are very excited to announce that FRN has selected 13 passionate and dedicated leaders from a diverse array of backgrounds and locations for its inaugural Student and Alumni Advisory Board (SAAB). This new board was assembled as a response to students’ requests to be more involved with FRN, both during and after their college experiences.

“The creation of our student board is a significant step in the growth and evolution of Food Recovery Network. I’m confident that creating this wellspring for chapters to collectively communicate and address their needs will increase leadership development and engagement across the network, ultimately leading to more food being recovered nationwide,” stated Regina Northouse, FRN Executive Director.

The 13 members of SAAB are: Allison Blakely (Alumni, Rochester Institute of Technology), Jennifer Campbell (University of Tampa), Brian Chueh (Alumni, Villanova University), Catherine Crombez (Alumni, Madonna University), Meryl Davis (Knox College), Yash Desai (Alumni, University of Houston), Heather Fucini (Alumni, University of Hawaii at Manoa), Kirsty Hessing (Wagner College), Susan Pagano (Alumni, Monmouth University), Jamie Renman (University of Delaware), Amanda Rivas (Oxford College of Emory University), Maria Rodriguez (Alumni, Whittier College), Lianna Tilton (Alumni, University of California in Davis). The board was created with the intent of involving a broad range of perspectives to strengthen and diversify the food recovery conversation across the country. Learn more about these amazing individuals and their hard work!

SAAB will provide invaluable input on what happens on the ground of the food recovery movement to the national team, and work to engage alumni who were part of FRN during their undergraduate careers. Kirsty Hessing, a senior at Wagner College in New York City said, “I’m going to be a senior this year, so it was kind of daunting to think that my food recovery experience was coming to an end. Being able to stay involved and connected to chapters even after graduation through SAAB is really exciting to me.” As the food recovery movement expands to more parts of the country, the board will push the movement to be as sustainable and inclusive as possible.

President of FRN’s Board of Directors, Ernie Minor, will be involved in leading SAAB. He sees this new board as the missing link in the conversation between the FRN National office and the students on the ground. “The thing that attracted me to FRN right off the bat was the students who were willing to get things completed to make an impact for people who are in need,” he explained. “Having SAAB to represent all that’s happening throughout the network is incredibly exciting.”

In the first year, SAAB will outline bylaws and formalize its mission and vision. Members will provide feedback on resource development and campaign initiatives to support FRN National’s strategic plan. SAAB will focus on engaging leaders across the network to strengthen the student-led movement and will work to engage FRN alumni and keep them involved in the growing food recovery movement off campus. They will have the opportunity to pilot new technologies and services. SAAB members will also play a role in the second annual National Food Recovery Dialogue on November 4 and 5, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

“Our first-ever student and alumni board will offer another opportunity for folks to share their strategies to strengthen the movement, and spread the word about food waste. I'm looking forward to thought-partnering with those selected to serve on the advisory board.”  said Hannah Cather, FRN Program Manager.

Click here to see the official press release.