Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City digs deeper into ATH's mission
APRIL 28, 2023
ATH was honored to have been featured in a recent article by the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City. The article, “Digging Deeper” highlights our mission to reduce food waste and fight hunger in our community. We’re grateful for this recognition and proud to be working toward a more sustainable and equitable food system. Read an excerpt below, then check out the full article on the group’s website.
FIGHTING FOOD SECURITY “UPSTREAM”
Food waste is often described as a “farm-to-fork” problem. For the most part, conversations about food waste usually center on oversized portions at dinner, kids not eating all their vegetables and food products being discarded along the supply chain for being beyond their “best by” or “sell by” dates or not in compliance with processing, packaging and labeling regulations.
But those are downstream situations, influenced by efficient, productive food processing systems and more reliable distribution and warehousing operations that can create food abundance or surpluses. In the last ten years, though, attention has been aimed at the waste occurring upstream – in the fields and orchards. Bruised, scarred vegetables and fruits (whose freshness and quality have not necessarily been compromised) are regularly abandoned. “According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, some 52% of all produce grown in our country never reaches a human consumer,” says Lisa Ousley, who is retiring as founding executive director of Kansas City, Missouri-based After The Harvest (ATH). “About 10% of produce is lost at the farm level – either it is missed by automated harvesting equipment or passed over by field hands who do the initial grading in the field,” she explains.
Ten years ago Ousley and a small group who believed no food should go to waste founded ATH. Their assumption was that people experiencing food insecurity, specifically those in the Greater Kansas City area, deserved healthy food. “We started the organization in May 2014 with two chairs, a file cabinet and a strong belief in our mission,” says Ousley. Using office space and computers on loan from Harvesters–The Community Food Network, she adds, “We launched After the Harvest with a two-person staff and never looked back.”