This is the third post in our NFRD Who's Who series, a collection of interviews with the fantastic leaders who will be speaking at the National Food Recovery Dialogue from April 2-4. Stay tuned – we'll be sharing more interviews as we count down to the NFRD.
Student activist turned garbage guru, Claire Cummings is the first-ever Waste Programs Manager for Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the food service pioneer that operates more than 650-plus cafés in 33 states for universities, corporations, and museums. Claire has doubled Bon Appétit’s food-recovery programs, developed implementation guides for launching reusable to-go container initiatives, supported the development of a new kitchen-waste-tracking system, and helped launch Imperfectly Delicious Produce, a program that has rescued over 720,000 pounds of produce from going to waste. Claire is one of Food Tank’s 30 Women Under 30 Changing Food, she recently received Saveur’s “Activist” Good Taste Award, and her work has been featured in Bloomberg News, Sunset Magazine, and the New York Times. Claire’s passion for sustainable waste management began when she was a student dining at Bon Appétit's café at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, and continued in her first job with Bon Appétit, as West Coast Fellow. The company created the Waste Programs Manager position for her.
FRN: What are you looking forward to at the conference?
LS: The people, it is all about the people. I hope to leave feeling energized and inspired by all the amazing activism and good work being done to fight waste and feed people throughout the country. I can’t wait to connect with students and other speakers who are passionately and creatively addressing the issue of waste in their community.
FRN: Why are you passionate about food recovery?
LS: Because I refuse to settle with the status quo. The only food system I will accept is one that is just and sustainable for all and until that is a reality I am going to continue to fight for better.
FRN: What's your proudest accomplishment of your career?
LS: Doubling food recovery programs at Bon Appétit in the first year I started working in the field, and recently having helped craft our first company-wide commitment to regular food donation! If you are interested in learning more you should visit http://www.bamco.com/timeline/low-carbon-lifestyle/.
FRN: Time for a fun question. What's your spirit vegetable?
LS: Garlic - one time I bought 12 different varieties of garlic at once (I have the picture to prove it). I happened to be visiting this farm that specializes in garlic growing and got super excited to try all the unique varieties they had available so I got a couple of each variety (over 30 heads of garlic in total). I don’t know if I actually embody the spirit of garlic, I think I just really love garlic.
FRN: Okay, we're having too much fun here -- we've got one more question. If you were a kitchen utensil, what would you be?
LS: An apron, I like protecting my loved ones from messy situations.