The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Leverages Findings from ReFED's Insights Engine for $2.5M Open Call


The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Leverages Findings from ReFED's Insights Engine for $2.5M Open Call

by: Emily Hermann

March 24, 2021

ReFED’s Insights Engine helped The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Innovation Fund, in collaboration with Village Capital, identify upcycled consumer goods as the market hotspot with the biggest need for capital and the greatest opportunity for impact for their 2021 $2.5M open call. The Insights Engine, along with the Roadmap to 2030: Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 50%, proved to be critical tools for assessing the market, identifying potential opportunities, and standardizing impact measurement.

This year’s open call builds on the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation’s $1M inaugural open call in 2019 and is a key component of its mission to create communities free from hunger and waste. ReFED’s Alexandria Coari serves as an advisory committee member on the initiative. 

“ReFED’s resources are serving as a critical foundation for this open call,” said Sunny Reelhorn Parr, executive director of The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation. “The Insights Engine and Roadmap to 2030 provided us with comprehensive data and a vetted list of solutions and their impacts, so we’re able to ensure that we identify the most breakthrough innovations, give them the support they need to scale, and make a significant dent in the amount of food going to waste each year.”

“The ReFED Roadmap and Insights Engine were critical for developing the market assessment and problem statement,” said Kelly Bryan, Sustainability Practice Manager of Village Capital. “We can see it being a hub for innovators, nonprofits, for profits, accelerators, and many others.” 

ReFED’s resources are helping the effort in two primary ways – understanding market trends and measuring impact potential. During the application process, the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation asked innovators to identify where their solutions land within the Roadmap to 2030’s seven key food waste reduction action areas, enabling a seamless comparison among applicants. Additionally, terminology used throughout the Roadmap – including definitions and naming conventions for solutions – provided a “best in class” standard that helped center discussions and align feedback.

The Insights Engine’s Food Waste Monitor showed that trimmings and byproducts coming from manufacturing are the second-largest contributor to surplus food generation at 19.3M tons per year (2019 estimate), highlighting an opportunity where funding and solutions could be most impactful. The Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation used the Insights Engine’s Solutions Database to prioritize solutions – particularly those driving waste diversion – for applicants to explore with their innovations.

The Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation also requested that applicants report the impact of their solutions with the Insights Engine’s Impact Calculator, leveraging its third party-validated data to inform the open call selection process in a standardized, consistent format. The Impact Calculator is also being used directly by the selected open call innovators to report their actual and projected impacts over the next year as another indicator of the potential effectiveness of their solutions.

The Insights Engine’s Solution Provider Directory – along with ReFED’s extensive network of food system stakeholders – helped the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation amplify the open call to a diverse swath of relevant solution providers and potential applicants.

The current $2.5M open call serves as a model for how other food system operators and funders can use the ReFED Insights Engine and Roadmap to 2030 to design effective interventions that align on the areas of greatest need and greatest potential for change.

For more information about The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation Open Call, apply here before April 1st.

To explore the ReFED Insights Engine, click here.

To download the Roadmap to 2030 report, click here.

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow.

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