SC4: Food Waste: Managing a Solvable Problem at the Food, Water, Energy Nexus

Up up to 40% of the food produced in the United States is wasted, all while 1 in 5 Americans is unsure of where there next meal is going to come from. Food waste represents about 5% of all GHG emissions in the United States and 25% of all water use. The issue of food waste touches on many varied social and environmental issues and is tucked behind other banner issues – climate change, sustainable agriculture, the drought, hunger and poverty. It is this interrelated complexity that has caused food waste to remain behind the scenes and only recently, increased attention. This symposium will look at the drivers of food waste and how we can all work better with one another to drive change.


Joan Briggs, Executive Director, Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation and Sarah Vared, Associate, MissionPoint Partners and ReFED


Danielle Nierenberg, President, Food Tank


  • JoAnne Berkenkamp, Senior Advocate, Food & Agriculture Program, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Cheryl Coleman, Director, Resource Conservation and Sustainability Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Christy Cook, Director of Sustainability Performance and Field Support, Office of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Sodexo North America
  • Elise Golan, Director for Sustainable Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Danielle Nierenberg is an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues. Danielle has spent several years traveling to more than sixty countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where she has met with farmers and farmers’ groups, scientists and researchers, policymakers and government leaders, students and academics, along with journalists, documenting what’s working to help alleviate hunger and poverty, while protecting the environment. (202-590-1037;

JoAnne Berkenkamp focuses on improving the efficiency of our food system at the national level, particularly through food waste prevention and food recovery. JoAnne has nearly two decades of experience in the food systems arena, including regional food systems development, consumer education, policy advocacy, institutional food procurement, and food supply chain research and development. Her work on food waste has been featured by National Public Radio, Huffington Post, News, CNET News/CBS Interactive and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. JoAnne holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. (612-618-3419;

Cheryl Coleman is Director of the Resource Conservation and Sustainability Division (RCSD) of US EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. RCSD implements EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) program, which promotes long-term sustainable management of materials. She is responsible for collaborative partnerships with stakeholders across the lifecycle of materials and for developing policy, guidance, and outreach materials on SMM. Ms. Coleman has twenty-eight years of experience with materials management. She came to U.S. EPA from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, where she was Director of Compliance and Enforcement for waste programs and mining. She also served in leadership roles for the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO), including Secretary/Treasurer and Co-Chair of the Hazardous Waste Subcommittee.

Christy Cook is responsible for implementing sustainability and corporate responsibility practices throughout Sodexo’s 9,000 partnerships in North America. This includes leading all sustainability training initiatives as well as creating the tools and resources needed to implement sustainability practices and the measurement of Sodexo’s sustainability performance. This work helps Sodexo and its clients reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use; conserve water resources; minimize waste; and promote sustainable agriculture and community development. Christy co-leads Sodexo’s global strategy on waste reduction efforts. (

Elise Golan provides leadership to the USDA’s various policies, programs, and activities that impact and relate to sustainable agricultural, natural resource, and community development including food security. Prior to this position, Elise served as the Associate Director of the Food Economics Division at the Economic Research Service of tbe USDA. Dr. Golan’s research has spanned a wide range of sustainability issues, including land tenure and sustainable land management in the Sahel and West Africa; rice-straw burning and sustainable land management in California; regional and U.S. food-system modeling; food labeling and market development; food access, affordability, and security; and the distributional consequences of food policy.


Leave a Comment