As COVID-19 upends the global food supply chain and disrupts economies around the world, the threat of food waste looms particularly large.

Farmers are faced with fields of crops and no buyers, and restaurant owners find themselves with pantries and fridges of food they can’t serve. Meanwhile, not all food pantries have enough space or staff to handle massive influxes in donations—or demand. Around 40 million Americans were food-insecure before the pandemic, a number that has only increased in recent weeks.

ReFED, an organization that analyzes solutions to food waste, is working to save food and deliver relief to those in need through the COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund, which launched this week.

By giving more than US$1 million in grants throughout the month of May, ReFED’s goal is to prevent 10 million pounds of food from being wasted. This is enough food, they estimate, to serve 8.3 million meals to those in need. ReFED aims to grant a total of US$10 million throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded in 2015, ReFED uses data-driven research to identify top opportunities to reduce food waste and bring stakeholders together to act upon them. Their landmark Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste identified 27 detailed solutions that can also cut emissions and save money, ranging from the standardization of date labels to the use of smaller plates.

ReFED is actively looking to distribute grants to organizations that can quickly commit to preventing or rescuing at least 250 tons of food within the next three months.

The priorities of the COVID-19 Food Waste Solutions Fund are based on ReFED’s quantitative research into the causes and hotspots of food loss and waste. The Fund has identified three major areas of attention for potential solutions:

  • Recovery of healthful foods, particularly on farms.
  • Solving logistical challenges in the supply chain.
  • “Last-mile” delivery of food to those in need.

Read the full article about food waste and security by Jared Kaufman at Food Tank.