Kate Bowdler is the Director of Sustainability at Philabundance, a Philadelphia-based hunger-relief not-for-profit organization. Serving over 90 000 people per week, Philabundance distributed 25 million pounds (11 million kg) of food in 2017. It does this through its own neighborhood distribution network, along with the help of 350 member agencies operating in counties throughout Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.
With three-quarters of a million people suffering from hunger every day in their service area, Philabundance has a simple goal. Established in 1984, it aims to ensure that “no man, woman or child should go hungry.” Perfectly echoing a fundamental Sustainable Development Goal #2: Zero Hunger.
As Director of Sustainability, Kate Bowdler works at the intersection of environmental and social sustainability. For instance, she pioneered the Abundantly Good food brand, an initiative that upcycles surplus farm products. It has already resulted in the donation of 5 000lbs of high-quality food to people in need. The program simultaneously supports local farmers, reduces food waste and addresses the urgent issue of food insecurity.
From an environmental perspective, this translates to a huge decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in the food supply and distribution chain.
More recently, Kate Bowdler has managed the ‘Grocers against Hunger’ project, which aims to rescue food by directly partnering grocery stores and agencies. Working with over 250 stores, the program currently rescues 100 million lbs of food per year.
Speaking at The Economist’s Feeding the Future conference in London, Kate spoke eloquently about the need to focus on food waste, rather than food production, as the key to align people, planet and profit under a common goal.
After her talk, I was able to speak to her about her work and vision for the future. Here’s what she had to say.