Food Waste

Apply for FEW Graduate Scholars Program

Reduce food waste. Save energy. Save water. Improve efficiency of use of resources. It’s logical. It’s something everyone can do. It’ll feed the world with what we already produce!

Human and planetary health are important. These start with good farming practices and the harvest processing and distribution of edible products.  It also requires that consumers have sufficient interest in buying and economic where with all to purchase desired food ingredients.

Food production, processing and accessibility is not equal across the United States. Every kilogram of food wasted has embedded in it the energy, water, labor, soil and other natural resources from the production component.  The food recovery hierarchy identifies multiple methods to reduce food wastes where over production or excess supplies exist. Opportunities exist to encourage each citizen to reduce household food waste to address the primary source of food waste in the United States.

COVID-19 disrupted food supply chains at local, regional, state, national, and global scales. In some areas this exacerbated the already stressed food production system and resulted in much waste while people went hungry.

Your challenge as a cohort of graduate students from multiple disciplines and institutions is to 1) characterize the resources embedded in food wastes and 2) identify one or more ways to reduce food wastes, and 3) explore opportunities to reduce food wastes in communities and redistribute healthy food to others.

This cohort will engage with expert scientists and concerned stakeholders to gain insight into the technical nuances of food wastes. The cohort will also work with synchronous and asynchronous units to develop power skills important to work with colleagues from different disciplines. The cohort will focus on known information related to food waste and the imagination of cohort members to potentially identify where redundancies need to exist to prevent supply chain disruptions, imagine a food supply system with less waste, or identify how consumer food waste can be reduced. The opportunities are limitless.

Your cohort’s products will impact our ability to use natural resources more efficiently to feed our population today and into the future.

Facilitator: Deanne Meyer, Extension Livestock Waste Management Specialist, UC Davis

Graduate Mentor: Joseph Burke, Ph.D. candidate (Soil Science), Texas A&M University


Pablo Lamino, Texas Tech University

Currently, I am a Doctoral student in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication at Texas Tech University. I have experience in rural development, especially focused on developing countries. I have been working with indigenous people, training, and teaching them about sustainable agriculture and food security. I have a Graduate Certificate in Global Food Security, and as part of my certificate, I realized that globally there is 1/3 of food that gets lost or is wasted, depending on the place. Therefore, I understand the importance to address these issues, mainly because developing countries suffer from food losses due to the lack of technology to maintain the cold chain. On the other hand, developed countries waste more food due to the cultural behavior that teaches them to throw out without looking for another way to manage the food.

Bryan Munoz, North Carolina State University

Biotechnology, Policy and Agriculture. I am interested in knowing more about the dynamics and the interaction with other people.

Emiliano Lopez Barrera, Purdue University

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Agricultural Economics Department at Purdue University. Before joining Purdue, I graduated from North Dakota State University with MSc in Applied Economics and from Universidad de la República (Uruguay) with a BA in Economics. My research examines the global food economy towards 2050. I focus on understanding how future patterns of global food consumption will affect human health, and how the agricultural changes needed to support the ongoing global nutrition transition will affect the environment. I combine econometric tools with economic and nutrition modeling to explore the trade-offs and linkages among diets, human health, and environmental sustainability. I have participated in discussions/panels of consumers’ food waste in several meetings and countries (AAEA, Mexico, Uruguay, etc.). I have recently published “Global food waste across the income spectrum: Implications for food prices, production and resource use” in Food Policy co-authored with Dr. Thomas Hertel.

Madisen Gittlin, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

I am a second year doctoral student in the Bioproducts and Biosystems Science, Engineering and Management program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. My research interests focus on the interactions and interconnections at the food, soil, atmosphere nexus. I have several years of professional experience in the waste management industry in California, and have designed and implemented award-winning food waste diversion programs across the state. I take this knowledge and devotion towards waste diversion and resource recovery with me into my graduate studies as I explore the ways in which food waste interacts with our food systems and the environment.

Tessa Clarizio, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I am a first-year PhD student in Environmental Engineering, as part of the Energy-Water-Environment-Sustainability (EWES) program at UIUC. I have an environmental engineering background as well, with a Master’s in Water, Waste and Environmental Engineering from University College Dublin, and a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Notre Dame. I also worked for a year at an environmental engineering consultancy in Dublin, Ireland. At Notre Dame, I was involved in several student-led campaigns to reduce food waste. My current research involves studying the interface of air pollution, climate change and public health.

Adenike Opejin, Arizona State University

I am in the PhD sustainability program doing interdisciplinary research on the relationship between food waste and FEW Nexus. My background is in urban Planning and I have expertise in systems thinking, GIS, project management and both quantitative and qualitative data analysis. My master’s project was on waste management in cities and I currently work on consumer food waste in the city of Phoenix using systems thinking approach.

Alex Michels, South Dakota State University

I am a second year MS student in the Natural Resource Management department at SDSU. My master’s project involves regenerative agriculture, pollinators, and grassland birds. I am researching how regenerative farming practices promote below and above-ground biodiversity, store carbon in the soil, provide wildlife habitat, all while allowing farmers to still make a profit. I received BS degrees from University of South Dakota in Biology and Spanish. Before starting graduate school, I worked for several years at a clinical reproductive lab in a hospital, and then a few more years monitoring habitat for nesting waterfowl on the prairie.

Rory Lusebrink, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

My undergrad is in materials engineering, but I spent several years afterward focusing on equity and racial justice work. I’m now a 1st year PhD student in Systems Engineering with an emphasis on Human Factors. I’m excited about the possibility of working on an interdisciplinary, inter-university project to promote social justice.

Xiaoyi Fang, Ohio State

Ran Li, Ohio State