Connect & Collaborate

The Wasted Food Action Alliance was formed in response to the 2016 ReFED Report addressing national concern for the amount of food wasted in the United States.

Initially called the Wasted Food Solutions Task Force, the group focused on finding intersections between food recovery and food scrap composting. A multistakeholder approach was needed and included leading food businesses, solid waste agencies, environmental and hunger organizations, policymakers, and innovators.

The group has grown both in number of members and focus, with each member contributing unique perspectives and expertise on the challenges and opportunities for waste reduction across the food supply chain. 

The Wasted Food Action Alliance was renamed in 2019 and includes a Coordinating Team and the full Alliance playing critical roles in driving the overall strategic direction of the Alliance and development of this Illinois Wasted Food Action Plan, ensuring it accurately represents the food waste landscape, analyzes relevant and practical solutions, and results in actionable insights for all stakeholders.


Drive the overall strategic direction of the Wasted Food Action Alliance:

  • Convene – oversee meeting planning and agendas for Alliance meetings.
  • Plan – create and update the strategic plan for the Alliance with input from the general membership.
  • Engage – identify and engage new members for the Alliance.
  • Educate – coordinate educational presentations at the Alliance meeting.
  • Take Action – use the Illinois Wasted Food Action Plan to share relevant and practical solutions to provide actionable insights for all stakeholders.

Coordinator: Jen Nelson (Seven Generations Ahead & Illinois Food Scrap Coalition)


Develop and disseminate Food Waste Reduction Toolkit for K-12 Schools in Illinois to provide schools guidance on measuring food waste, preventing food waste, recovering and redistributing edible food, food scrap composting, as well as education and engagement for students:

  • Disseminate the Toolkit through the partner websites, Alliance member organizations, and more.
  • Promote the use of the Toolkit through presentations and webinars.
  • Collaborate with statewide partners for the development of state-level guidance on share tables and the redistribution of edible food for K-12 schools.

Coordinator: Susan Casey (Zero Waste Schools, Seven Generations Ahead)


Collect specific data and establish a baseline to help build the case and identify the biggest opportunities for wasted food prevention, rescuing and recycling:

  • Research and use existing data sources to estimate the economic benefits of wasted food recycling at the state level (wages, tax revenue, and jobs).
  • Identify and evaluate other sources of data applicable to the Alliance and the Illinois Food Waste Action Plan.
  • Help finalize the Alliance reduction goals.

Coordinator: Jen Nelson (Seven Generations Ahead & Illinois Food Scrap Coalition)


Work to identify assets (people, infrastructure and technology) in Illinois related to wasted food reduction, food rescue and donation, and food scrap composting:

  • Identify and map regional assets to encourage collaboration across silos.
  • Identify technology solutions to connect food donors to transportation, volunteers, and food banks/pantries.
  • Conduct research on national and local technologies.
  • Pilot Project: Feeding America technology to support food bank infrastructure.

Co-Coordinators: Herman Carnie (Greater Chicago Food Depository), Chad Steward (Northern Illinois Food Bank) and Stephanie Katsaros (Bright Beat)


Set strategy for a sustainable funding plan for the Wasted Food Action Alliance:

  • Budget for current work and funding needs for future work.
  • Identify available funding opportunities through diverse sectors, organizations, grants, etc.
  • Prepare and update WFAA scope of work and budgets with input from each committee.
  • Submit proposals for funding.

Coordinator: Gary Cuneen (Seven Generations Ahead & Illinois Food Scrap Coalition)


Identify and support policy related to wasted food reduction, food rescue and donation, and food scrap composting:

  • Collaborate with Illinois Environmental Council and other organizations to develop wasted food reduction policy agenda.
  • Provide regular updates to WFAA on policy action and support in Illinois.
  • Develop plans to coordinate efforts around aligned support of wasted food policies.

Coordinator: Jen Walling/Colleen Smith (Illinois Environmental Council)


Support branding and communication for the Wasted Food Action Alliance:

  • Develop the brand: new name, logo, etc.
  • Create infographics and communication pieces to engage new members, educate and share our work.
  • Explore potential for a newsletter or blog.
  • Help to develop a website: draft outline of site pages and overview of content.