Episode 3: Stiles Najac of Cornell Cooperative Extension

Stiles Najac, Food Security Coordinator and operator of the Gleanmobile

In episode 3 of Food Warriors, we meet Stiles Najac, the Food Security Coordinator of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County, New York. Stiles is the woman behind the wheel of the Gleanmobile. This noble duo -- along with an incredible posse of volunteers -- are recovering 270,000 pounds of fresh produce per year. That delicate and seasonal bounty is then swiftly delivered to soup kitchens, food pantries and food banks throughout Hudson Valley. 

This show is going to get you pumped on gleaning, so don't miss the Resources offered at the bottom of this post. Tons of ways to get connected as a volunteer, including regional programs that host traditional gleaning activities. Then there are six different apps listed that use mobile technology to coordinate farmers, businesses, charities and food drivers (read: YOU!) when recovered food becomes available. Additionally, for farmers: a knockout guide from the National Gleaning Project to help farmers to get those tax deductions every time they donate food. Sweet!

Connect with Stiles: 

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  • Gleaning defined, biblical references and art. Whatever happened to gleaning? [4:35]
  • Cornell Cooperative extension created by USDA land-grant University system and its programs [6:33]
  • Growth of Cornell gleaning project from 70,000 pounds produce gleaned (2006) to 270,000 (2016)  [8:07]
  • The yearly struggle to sustain the gleaning program: volunteers and staff [8:59]
  • What the busiest weeks of the year look like for Stiles: peak harvesting season [9:28]
  • Length of the gleaning season June - November, peaking July through October [10:42]
  • Challenges with delivering produce to food banks: Significance of the Gleanmobile [11:28] 
  • Lack of infrastructure and labor is a huge obstacle for food banks to receive donations of fresh produce [12:40]
  • How storing produce on a refrigerated truck quadrupled the amount of produce pantries and soup kitchens were able to accept [13:31] 
  • Research confirms the efficacy of donation transportation and donation storage and handling [14:51]
  • Gleaning programs are sustained by phenomenal volunteers [15:40]
  • The CROW CANNON STORY (!) [16:39]
  • Get involved with gleaning: examples [21:51]
  • The OKRA STORY: How to keep the service mentality in check and not slip into the “I know what’s best for you” mode [23:17]
  • Only 3% of our farmland is currently being grown with fruits and vegetables; 50% is devoted to corn and soy exclusively  [27:33]


Jonathan Bloom at www.wastedfood.com and his book, American Wasteland >>> buy it here <<< 

Food Cowboy at http://www.foodcowboy.com/

ReFED Roadmap at http://www.refed.com


Volunteering Opportunities:


  • http://www.foodcowboy.com/ Connects food companies, farmers and food haulers with charities to expedite donations of time sensitive produce using mobile technology  
  • https://www.foodspoileralert.com/ Coordinates communication between Farmers, Businesses and Nonprofits for donation and distribution of recovered food
  • https://www.zeropercent.us/ Gleaning from restaurants and events. Routes surplus food from commercial kitchens to soup kitchens and other charities to provide meals
  • https://gocopia.com and http://communityplates.org/cp-app/ Restaurant and food store gleaning meets Uber. "Food Heroes" are dispatched to collect excess food from businesses and delivers them to most appropriate charities. 
  •  https://olioex.com/ (UK) Connects neighbours with each other and with local shops so surplus food and other items can be shared, not thrown away
  • https://www.planzheroes.org/#!/ (UK) Online platform connecting businesses with surplus food to donate with charities, and facilitates transportation by volunteer members.  


Don’t be be dissuaded by it’s corny title...“Let’s Glean!" is a fantastic starting point and overview of gleaning from the USDA: https://www.usda.gov/documents/usda_gleaning_toolkit.pdf

Also, check out http://www.endfoodwaste.org/go-gleaning-.html

Guide for Farmers to collect tax deductions for donations under the new 2016 tax code, offered by the National Gleaning Project http://forms.vermontlaw.edu/farmgleaning/factsheets/EnhancedTaxDeductionGuideForFarmers.pdf

& for Farmers in UK, from Feedback's Gleaning Network: http://feedbackglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Feedback-Gleaning-Network-UK-Information-Sheet-For-Farmers-20161.pdf

Gleaning Farmers Markets: A case study in Seattle from www.mealspartnership.org http://www.mealspartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/JFS_MarketGleaning_Final.pdf

Academic resource: Literature review and gleaning programs best practices, from Chatham Kent Food Policy Council http://letstalkfood-ck.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/FINAL-CKPHU-Edible-Gardens-and-Gleaning-Literature-Review-and-Best-Practices-Final.pdf


Episode 2: Roger Gordon of Food Cowboy

Roger Gordon, Trail Boss and Co-founder of Food Cowboy

In episode 2 of the Wasted Food Series, we hear from Roger Gordon, Trailboss and Co-founder of Food Cowboy, a company that uses location-based technology to route commercial food away from dumpsters and into food banks. 

Roger Gordon has broken a bank monopoly, run for office, fought organized crime, clerked for Congress, helped entrepreneurs raise millions, worked to advance civil and human rights, and visited over 30 countries. In 2014, Fast Company named him one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. He holds an MBA from Kellogg and a JD from Georgetown. Today, he runs Food Cowboy, a technology company dedicated to ending food waste.

Connect with Food Cowboy: Twitter, Facebook

Full Episode

Short Episode


  • Creation Story of Food Cowboy: Brothers Roger and Richard started 30 years ago [5:05]
  • Why Roger has chosen to address food waste and alleviating hunger [5:59]
  • Richard’s background: 16 years of hauling produce, responding to humanitarian crises in US [8:04]
  • ReFED’s 3 pillars of Food Recovery: Education for business, Enabling Policy, Efficient use of Transportation and cold storage [10:00] 
  • Barriers to donation: timing conflict between when produce becomes available for donation and operating hours for food banks and pantries [11:40]
  • Obstacles to truckers donating food instead of dumping it: lack of information and logistics to coordinate with charities [14:03]
  • Barriers to donors: Costs to donate (handle and transport) food outweighs cost to simply dispose of it [14:23] 
  • Food banks throw away 20% of the fresh produce they are given due to lack of infrastructure such as cold storage [14:49]  
  • Every 19 days the food industry throws away more food than it donates in an entire year due to capacity constraints  [15:09]
  • How HR2029 introduced by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Tom Reed (NY), have increased tax incentives to growers and food producers [16:00]
  • How changes to tax code could reduce the food industry’s taxable income by up to $6 billion and reduce food waste disposal by $1.3 billion[17:27]
  • How Food Cowboys facilitates partnerships between donors and charities, leveraging donation tax incentives to create a virtuous cycle: funding for Food Cowboy, which uses 2/3 of that revenue to invest into building infrastructure  [19:01]
  • Food Cowboy could invest $50 million per year into food banks by recovering just 15% of fresh produce and 6% shelf-stable foods that are currently being thrown away in the supply chain [23:09]
  • Recovering just 7% supply chain’s annual food waste would allow food companies to $485 million in tax deductions [25:13] 
  • Building new infrastructure: Reimagining food banks to become food hubs that accept food waste and house central composting, anaerobic digesters and sources animal feed [26:22]
  • Limo for the leftovers to recover food from large events and weddings [27:40]
  • Every 2 people waste enough calories to feed a 3rd person in America [28:28]
  • 3 Step Strategy for Food Cowboy [29:34]
  • Food Posse and Food Cowboy platform to create donation partnerships between food stores (donors) and their consumers (transportation) [30:38]
  • Food security defined [31:50] 
  • How co-founder Barbara Cohen’s expertise in food security has informed Food Cowboy’s business model [32:22]


Imperfect Produce : Ugly Produce. Delivered


Growing Soul : Connecting, Educating, Nourishing


ForSolutions : The sustainable answer to food scraps management



San Diego Food Bank : Distributing food to hungry San Diego families


AmpleHarvest.org : Enabling home & community gardeners to donate their surplus crops to food pantries


Hungry Harvest : Recovered Produce. Delivered!


Guide for Farmers to collect tax deductions for donations under the new 2016 tax code, offered by the National Gleaning Project http://forms.vermontlaw.edu/farmgleaning/factsheets/EnhancedTaxDeductionGuideForFarmers.pdf

Other companies using Donation Matching Software:  

  •  https://olioex.com/ (UK) Connects neighbours with each other and with local shops so surplus food and other items can be shared, not thrown away
  • https://www.planzheroes.org/#!/ (UK) Online platform connecting businesses with surplus food to donate with charities, and facilitates transportation by volunteer members.  


Episode 1: Chris Hunt of ReFED

Chris Hunt of ReFED 

This is session 01 of the Wasted Food Series, and we meet Chris Hunt of ReFED: Rethinking Food Waste through Education and Data. In the US, about 40% of our food goes to waste. We learn how we can cut this in half by 2030 by following the ReFED Roadmap solutions including (1) Food Waste Preventions Solutions, (2) Food Waste Recovery Solutions and (3) Food Waste Recycling Solutions. On this show, you will hear actionable examples of each strategy.  

Chris Hunt serves as senior advisor for ReFED (Rethink Food Waste), where he supports the multi-stakeholder collaborative's efforts to reduce U.S. food waste by providing strategic input on communications, stakeholder engagement, and content development.

Before joining ReFED, Chris spent 12 years at the GRACE Communications Foundation, shaping the organization's promotion of sustainable agriculture by developing campaign strategy, building collaborative partnerships, overseeing content development, and serving as the foundation's primary spokesperson on food and agriculture issues. Previously, Chris conducted environmental economics research as an Alumni Memorial Scholar at Colgate University, served two terms on the board of directors of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, and sat on the steering committee of the Street Memorial Project.

Though he now lives in Northern California, Chris is proud to be certified as a Master Composter by the New York City Department of Sanitation.

Connect with Chris Hunt:  TwitterEcoCentric Blog




  • Formation of ReFED [07:15]
  • Key benefits of the Roadmap [07:48]

  • 3 areas identified for reducing food waste: (1) Prevention (2) Recovery (3) Recycling as it compares to Reduce/Reuse/Recycle hierarchy[8:53]

  • Americans waste $218 billion worth of food each year; food waste in the home accounts for $144 billion of the $218 billion [10:12]

  • How current date labeling practices contribute to food waste in the home  [10:30]

  • Awareness component: Even the act of measuring the amount of food wasted in the home can lead to a reduction of food waste [14:30]

  • Ad Council and NRDC Awareness Campaign “Save the Food” [15:21]

  • Tristram Stuart, Feedback and Feeding the 5000 [16:52]

  • First Feeding the 5000 in the U.S. (Oakland, CA) [17:28]

  • Gleaning is the practice of harvesting food that would otherwise be wasted on farms [18:16]

  • The greatest economic value for solving food waste is generated by prevention solutions [20:20]

  • Composting solutions provide the greatest waste diversion capacity [21:54]  

  • Chris’ experience with NYC Master composting program among network of urban gardeners [22:15]

  • Recycling solutions can divert 9.5 billion tons of food waste away from landfills every year [24:00]

  • Of the 62 million tons of food Americans throw away each year, 10 million tons of it occurs on the farm level [25:12]

  • Value-added processing. Example: Creating a market for imperfect produce and restoring its financial benefit to farmers [26:25]

  • According to data from Wasted, we currently throw away more of our fruits and vegetables (52%) than we we consume (48%) [26:35] 

  • Environmental impacts of food waste [30:50]

  • Potential global impacts of preventing and recovering food waste [31:50]

  • Roadmap to reduce our food waste by 20% over next 10 years [32:00]

  • Donation tax incentives to drive food donations by food suppliers [34:26]

  • Good Samaritan Act protecting donors [35:20]

  • Donation Matching Software companies, such as Food Cowboy, can boost food recovery and increase availability of fresh produce in food banks and food pantries [39:15]

  • What consumers can do to reduce food waste in their homes and in daily life [43:49]

Mentioned in this Episode: 

The stellar ReFED Roadmap and Website: A data-driven guide for businesses, government, funders, and nonprofits to collectively reduce food waste at scale


WASTED NRDC Written by Dana Gunners


Ad Council and NRDC campaign to “Save the Food” and Life of a Strawberry short movie


GRACE Communications Network:highlights the interconnections of food, water and energy systems, promoting sustainable and renewable solutions. 


Tristram Stuart & Feedback (UK): Putting a stop to global food waste


Salvation Farms (Vermont): Reducing Vermont’s dependency on food from afar


City Farms (NY): Unique brand of hospitality and entertainment: events


Hunts Point Produce Market (NY): Where the farmers go to market


Jose Andres (DC): Celebrity Chef and Restauranteur


Misfit Juicery (DC): This is not a juice company. Misfit reimagines the way we engage with food...


Refrained (CA): Eat beer. Sustainable supergrain


Food Cowboy: Uses mobile technology to route donated food




Toolkit for home: EPA toolkit for reducing waste in the home https://www.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-home


Toolkit for Businesses and Orgs: EPA WasteWise program to track and reduce food waste


We waste so much food that congress might do something (food labeling)


Jonathan Bloom American Wasteland http://www.wastedfood.com/

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/American-Wasteland-America-Throws-Nearly/dp/0738213640/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1291169165&sr=8-1

Bloom and Gunders interview with NPR: http://www.npr.org/2012/09/21/161551772/the-ugly-truth-about-food-waste-in-america

Additional Reports: http://www.thinkeatsave.org/index.php/be-informed/reports