In 2019, just before the ReFED Food Waste Summit in San Francisco, Turner Wyatt made a call that would change the food waste landscape. He phoned ReFED founder Jesse Fink with a proposition – to help him get a group of people to the Summit in order to sign papers of inception for a new nonprofit that Wyatt had been working on with a handful of others. Recognizing the potential, Fink became the first funder of the UFA. “No one does that, you don’t just make donations to an organization that doesn’t exist yet. Jesse has this way of seeing the future,” said Wyatt. With that, the Upcycled Food Association (UFA) was officially started, with Wyatt serving as the CEO.
Prior to that day, as the founder and CEO of Denver Food Rescue, Wyatt had seen first-hand the critical role that solution providers can play in cutting food waste . At the time, he looked up to ReFED as a national leader and similarly aimed to create a difference on a broader level beyond the territory where his nonprofit operated. He described ReFED as a “big sister,” saying that his inspiration to start UFA was partially based on what he had seen ReFED do. Said Wyatt, “I felt like I was stepping out of the very local food rescue scene to create an organization that was addressing systems-level challenges, working internationally, and working with big established partners like WWF, and NRDC, and many of the other big picture elements [like] ReFED was working on.”