In June 2021 ReFED launched the Food Waste Action Network (FWAN) with the intent of becoming an engaged community of food waste professionals. Along with being a very fun acronym to say, it has been an inspiring journey to be a part of. We knew the people of the food waste movement were hungry to collaborate with each other in an effort to increase collective impact, but the growth and engagement has exceeded even our own high expectations. The network is free, and easy to join because collaboration is the fuel that drives the network, and action is the critical goal.
A network is only as powerful as the people in it, and we continue to be impressed with the diverse array of people and organizations that have joined the FWAN. From Google to Raley’s, some of the biggest players in food waste are in the network. But large company affiliation is far from a requirement, and many of the FWAN members are smaller companies and individuals motivated to make a difference within their own spheres of influence. Our monthly member spotlights help inform others of who is in the network, what they are working on, and how to connect with them. Crucially, this network strives to include diverse perspectives, as we know that is the only route to ensure the food waste movement grows in an equitable and just manner. And ReFED’s own focus on DEIJ principles and practices has been highly informed by experienced members of this network who have generously offered guidance.
The FWAN is now over 800 members and has hosted a dozen different events. We have gotten creative with our virtual event format by hosting innovation demo days where solutions to food waste can be seen firsthand, as well as networking days specifically designed to facilitate meaningful collaboration opportunities. So far our events have been well received, with 75% of people at each event saying they are very likely to attend again. In addition to events, the FWAN also offers discounts to its members for the ReFED Food Waste Solutions Summit, and is a comprehensive resource for food waste professionals.
Another way that we help FWAN members connect and collaborate is through a searchable directory on the ReFED website. For example, Dylan Driscoll of the Central Texas Food Bank has shared that connections he’s made with other food rescue professionals has been a real asset to their programs.
“2022 has been a year of change at our food bank. New challenges that are forcing us to adapt. Through FWAN, we’ve connected with people across the world who share our mission of ending food waste and feeding people. The FWAN community has given us helpful ideas we wouldn’t otherwise have had access to, which in turn is helping us serve our community,” he said.
Next up, the FWAN is ramping up programming with increased networking opportunities, special events, and continued monthly communications. We want to help you – whether you need more info, want to connect with someone in the network, are looking to collaborate on a webinar or event, or something else, let us know. This is a community in which ReFED is not the power source, but the conduit connecting the power sources that are our members.
If you have gotten something out of being a FWAN member, we encourage you to help us continue to improve and expand our network –you can do this through:
- Letting us know what types of events and communications you are getting the most value out of - networking, innovation demo days, member spotlights, event reminders, etc.
- Sharing the sign-up link with individuals that you think would be a great addition to the network
- Participating actively in events and reaching out to other FWAN members
- Sharing FWAN-related posts on your social media
- Forwarding FWAN newsletters and member spotlights to your colleagues and partner organizations
- Sharing any connections that you’ve made through your participation in the network with us.
Keep up the good work, and we’ll see you out there at our events! Make sure you are subscribed to the ReFED Mailing List so that you don’t miss any upcoming opportunities!