On Friday, August 4, SBN announced the launch of its Food Saver Challenge, an innovative initiative to support Philadelphia businesses in their efforts to reduce food waste.
Members of the City’s local food scene, press, and the overall business community gathered at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, one of the country’s largest refrigerated warehouses that also serves as home to SBN member and Food Challenge partner, Sharing Excess, along with other food distribution businesses. Other Challenge partners also came to support the launch, including ClearCOGS, Bennett Compost, Share Food Program’s Philly Food Rescue. Partners in the challenge also include Circle Compost and Drexel Food Lab.
SBN Executive Director, Devi Ramkissoon, kicked off the challenge by speaking on the importance of bridging the gap between hunger and food waste. These are pressing issues in Philadelphia, where about 20% of the City’s waste stream is food, yet nearly 250,000 Philadelphians need access to nutritious food. SBN’s Food Saver Challenge addresses these issues head-on, encouraging businesses to adopt sustainable practices and build a culture of reducing food waste within the City and throughout the region.
As part of this six-month challenge, businesses from corner stores to restaurants may apply to track their progress in reducing, repurposing, and donating food that would otherwise be wasted. Approximately ten businesses will be chosen to compete in the challenge and gain access to resources, support, and services to aid them in implementing effective strategies for waste reduction. Upon completion, one business will be selected to receive a cash prize of $5,000 and recognition as SBN’s “Food Saver Champion,” along with other benefits.
After learning more about the challenge, guests were treated to a tour of the expansive warehouse of the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM), one of the largest refrigerated facilities of its kind at around 700,000 square feet. PWPM General Manager Mark Smith led the tour until handing it off to Sharing Excess in their portion of the warehouse, which they use for sorting through donated food to distribute to those in need. Since being founded in 2018 by Evan Ehlers, Sharing Excess has recused over 25 million pounds of food.
Local businesses can now apply to the challenge until Thursday, August 31, 2023. Businesses will be chosen and notified by Friday, September 8, 2023, and selected businesses will be invited to participate in an onboarding call on Friday, September 15, 2023.
All photography courtesy of Jesus Rincon.