On October 25th, The Wasted Food Action Alliance (WFAA), a group of organizations based in Illinois dedicated to reducing food waste, had their monthly meeting. Jen Nelson of Seven Generations Ahead, a core member of the WFAA, was one of the meeting’s facilitators. The group was joined by Jeff Hake who runs Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains with his wife and brother-in-law. Hake spoke about his farm work as well as his work with the Illinois Food System Infrastructure Collaborative (IFSIC), a project sponsored by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance.

Photo courtesy of Funks Grove website. Photo credit: Ryan Denham/WGLT.

The goal of Funks Grove Heritage Fruits and Grains is to ensure that food always has an opportunity to feed people before being composted. Therefore, imperfectly grown food that cannot be sold as is will be made into other products such as fruit leather.

One of the core beliefs of the WFAA is that building a network of connections across different facets of the food system will reduce the amount of food being wasted. Consequently, members represent organizations that work in various parts of the food system including growers, distributors, food businesses, institutions, food rescue organizations, composters and more. Members share a critical understanding that people working in all parts of the food system should be connected with each other not only to further the conversations around wasted food but to share resources as well. Hake’s work with the IFSIC especially pertains to this idea, as a goal of the project is to connect food workers across Illinois. It is the hope that through collaborative conversations, similar to the ones that take place in WFAA meetings, there can be more efficient progress toward a food-waste-free future. 

In October’s meeting, this belief in the power of collaboration was apparent as Hake and other members spent time sharing helpful resources with one another as well as recommending organizations that they thought would be beneficial to each other’s work. 

The meeting wrapped up with a discussion of the City of Chicago’s new municipal composting program, which is free for all Chicago residents who sign up. Members shared their hope for the successful rollout of this program and shared a desire for its expansion. The WFAA will invite a member of the Department of Streets and Sanitation to come to a future meeting to discuss the program. WFAA members were interested in helping to promote this new composting program through their respective communication channels. 

WFAA meetings are open to the public. If you are interested in joining the conversation on reducing food waste you can sign up to receive communications from the WFAA and information on future meetings here.