The Kroger Co. and The Kroger Co. Foundation announced a partnership with ReFED, a multi-stakeholder nonprofit organization committed to reducing food waste in the U.S. They announced the new partnership while on stage at the third annual Food Rescue Summit hosted by Feeding America in Washington, D.C.
"When we shared our bold Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative in September, we emphasized our plans to establish a $10 million Innovation Fund within The Kroger Co. Foundation to address hunger, food waste and the paradoxical relationship between the two," said Jessica Adelman, Kroger group vice president of corporate affairs. "Our newly formed relationship with ReFED will challenge us to create the best strategy, structure and program to invest the funds in the most innovative solutions that will help end hunger in the communities we call home and eliminate waste in our company by 2025."
According to Kroger, there is a fundamental absurdity in the food system in that 40% of the food produced in the U.S. goes to waste, yet one in eight Americans struggles with hunger. Kroger believes it can address this absurdity because it has tremendous scale – the physical assets, the technology, the resources, the people and the passion – combined with local connections to its communities to tackle this challenge.
Kroger's partnership with ReFED will help accelerate the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste vision.
ReFED works with businesses, investors, innovators and policy-makers to move the food system from acting on instinct to insights to solve the national food waste problem. The leaders at ReFED have deep knowledge and experience in food waste innovation, scaling solutions and the philanthropic and impact investment sectors. ReFED has an innovator database with more than 400 food waste solutions providers, and the system closely tracks where investments are being made.
"Philanthropic capital is needed to foster innovation in ways that other sources of capital cannot, to target and scale solutions lacking a market-rate application, develop capacity for market-based solutions and seed pilot projects, proofs of concept and other market-building activities," ReFED executive director Chris Cochran said. "We're excited to work alongside Kroger and The Kroger Co. Foundation – a true leader in bringing together capital and innovation to eliminate food waste."
Adelman said Kroger’s purpose is to "feed the human spirit," which comes to life through Zero Hunger | Zero Waste. "A company's purpose and social impact matter now more than ever. Our Innovation Fund gives us a platform to work with food waste industry leaders and seek input from other partners and stakeholders to maximize its impact. We look forward to crowdsourcing ideas, funding prototypes and pilots and bringing solutions that work to scale to transform our communities."
Kroger added that it is continuing its inaugural work with long-standing partners Feeding America and World Wildlife Fund to accelerate progress toward achieving its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste vision.