Five Questions with Ben Simon of the Food Recovery Network

From foodtank.com, by Ben Simon
Five Questions with Ben Simon of the Food Recovery Network

Food Tank, in partnership with the George Washington University, is hosting the 1st Annual Food Tank Summit in Washington D.C. on January 21-22, 2015.

This two-day event will feature more than 75 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policy makers, government officials, and students will come together for panels on topics including food waste, urban agriculture, family farmers, farm workers, and more.

Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Ben Simon, Founder and Executive Director of the Food Recovery Network, who will be speaking at the summit.

Food Tank (FT): What will your message be at the Food Tank Summit?

Ben Simon (BS): America grows enough food each year to feed everyone. Food waste is one of America's biggest environmental issues and largest injustices in the food system, as America wastes 40 percent of its food while 1 in 6 Americans go hungry. If America reduced food waste by just 15% it would cut hunger in half according to the NRDC.

(FT): How are you contributing to building a better food system?

(BS): My co-founders and I started Food Recovery Network in September 2011 to recover the surplus food from campus dining halls and local restaurants near our college campuses. We've now grown the movement to 111 colleges in 31 states and have recovered and donated over 600,000 pounds of food that otherwise would have gone to waste. We also recently launched Food Recovery Certified, America's first and only certification program recognizing food businesses that donate their surplus food instead of wasting it.

(FT): What are the biggest obstacles or challenges you face in achieving your organization's goals?

(BS): The number one obstacle is that most managers at restaurants, dining halls, grocery stores and other food businesses have never heard of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which protects good faith food donors from liability. People in management positions with the power to recover food typically don't because they are afraid of getting sued, or are unaware it often helps their bottom line. A lot of our work is educational.

(FT): Who is your food hero and why?

(BS): My food hero is a local pastor in Prince George's County, Maryland named Pastor Ben Slye. Pastor Ben runs a local food recovery program that distributes 30,000 pounds of fresh produce each week to families in need. He leads with his heart and is really inspirational.

(FT): In 140 characters or less what is the most important thing we can all do to help change the food system?

(BS): Tell one college student to bring Food Recovery Network to their campus to feed people, not landfills: http://bit.ly/1gnQujw

The event is SOLD OUT, but interested participants can sign up for the live-stream HERE. Or JOIN US for dinner and a reception to celebrate Food Tank's two-year anniversary on January 21st at 5:30pm EST. This event will also sell out fast, REGISTER NOW.