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November 9, 2023 | 8:30AM-4:30PM

Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center
16 Fernihurst Drive Asheville, NC 28801

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The 2023 Food Waste Solutions Summit is a regional gathering aimed at disrupting food waste issues facing our communities, expanding our networks, and inspiring dynamic solutions. This third summit builds on collaborative efforts activated by the 2017 and 2019 events, bringing together local businesses, organizations, and university leaders to expand cross-sector conversations and deepen partnerships. The past two summits attracted hundreds of attendees from dozens of community organizations, businesses, and government agencies and resulted in the launch of Food Waste Solutions WNC, a collaborative network addressing food waste recovery issues including: 

  • Support for edible food waste collection and redistribution
  • Increased landfill diversion tactics
  • Innovative enterprise development
  • Development of community and municipal level compost initiatives

Because of this work, the Asheville area now serves as a model for other communities across North Carolina striving to reduce food waste.  

Online Registration Closed

We will be accepting walk-in registrations on the day of the event

Registration pricing for the 2023 Food Waste Solutions Summit is on a sliding scale, which means we encourage you to pay what you’re truly able to afford. The intention is to make the event accessible to all who are interested in attending by eliminating financial barriers. We’re dependent on registration fees to help support the considerable cost of hosting this event, and we’re hoping that contributions from some will help make the event more accessible for others. 

Remember that registration for this event includes a full day of carefully planned programming, lunch, snacks, beverages, and an evening networking event and site tour opportunity at a local taproom. Food Waste Solutions WNC is a volunteer group, and we are putting in a collective 400+ hours to plan this Summit. Any amount raised from registration fees above what we need to cover costs will be put toward food waste reduction efforts in Western North Carolina.

Consider paying more on the scale if you:

  • own the home you live in
  • are part of a company or organization
  • have investments, retirement accounts, or inherited money
  • travel recreationally
  • have access to family money and resources in times of need

When registering: First, you’ll be prompted to a registration form. Following completing the form, you’ll be prompted to make a donation to our event fiscal sponsor, Bountiful Cities. This is sliding scale where you can pay what you’re able. Thank you!

Volunteer & Work-trade

We want the 2023 Food Waste Solutions Summit to be accessible to ALL community members! Please contact us to find out about volunteer and work-trade opportunities. For details, email Cathy Cleary at

2023 Food Waste Solutions Summit Tracks

Public Policy Solutions

Engaging in conversations with government and elected officials around policies that exist to support food waste solutions. Food safety legislation, rules about where edible agriculture can be located, and what businesses and institutions can and can’t do with their food waste are all examples of policy that can impact how much food waste ends up in local landfills.

Business & Funding Opportunities

Composting businesses are more common these days, and if we look up the food waste chain there are many successful business models that capitalize on food that may otherwise get wasted. Grants and incentive programs are also coming on-line to encourage food waste reduction.

Food Waste & Climate Change

Did you know that Food waste is the 3rd largest contributor to climate change in this country? We will look at how solutions to food waste are also environmentally sustainable solutions for our planet.

Food Equity and Access

From Free Refrigerators to community gardens to land access there are solutions to food waste that can also support food security and food sovereignty.

If you are interested in finding out more about about any of these topic areas for the WNC Food Waste Summit please reach out to Cathy Cleary

2023 Food Waste Solutions Summit Schedule



Coffee and Light Breakfast Snacks


Event Overview

Announcements, Address from Local Leaders, (Buncombe County Commissioner Amanda Edwards, Asheville City Council Member Kim Roney) and Sponsors, Graphic Note Taking with Caryn Hanna



From Elizabeth Biser Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality


Panel Discussion with Topic Experts:

Cross-Sector Opportunities for Food Waste Disruption
Moderator: Kiera Bulan
Presenters: Mae Mimms, Christine Wittmeier, Evan Couzo, and Jan Hardin




Buffet Lunch

Provided By Chef Bert Sheffield, Chef Don Paleno, and Chef Diego Ramirez (Vivian) using gleaned produce and meat to make a zero waste inspired meal!


Cooking Demonstration




Main Room: Large group Speaker


Main Room: Capturing the Learning and Next Steps




Tour and Happy Hour Social

At Devil’s Foot Beverage Company

11:00 Breakout Session 1

Business for a Better Tomorrow: The Power of Corporate Sustainability

Business opportunities

Main Room

Moderator: Christine Wittmeier
Presenters: Kimber Jones (Biltmore Company), Ben Colvin (Devil’s Foot Beverage), Jerry Jenkins (Hickory Nut Gap Meats)

Join the Biltmore Estate, Devil’s Foot Beverage Company and Hickory Nut Gap Meats to learn how they are going above and beyond with managing their excess food scraps. Devil’s Foot will present on their Full Fruit Life program where they upcycle their spent pulp and zest into a sellable product. You will also hear about the Biltmore Estate’s newly constructed compost facility. Hickory Nut Gap Farms will share their whole carcass utilization and regenerative farming practices.

“Good” Food Waste Policy - Models and Policies for Transformative Change


Room A

Moderator: Kiera Bulan
Presenters: Jessie Sugarman (Environmental Law Institute), Yvette Cabrera (Natural Resources Defense Council)

One of the most powerful levers for advancing change is policy. Participants will gain a better understanding of how policy and policy advocacy work, model policies being implemented throughout the country, their potential cascading impacts, and how to build powerful coalitions to pass and implement policy.

Motivational strategies to reduce food waste in your home and community 


Room B

Moderator: Rechelle Ray
Panelists: Chantal Fortin (Chartwells at UNC Asheville) & Elizabeth Schussler (The Recycling Partnership’s Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact)

Engage in a behavior change session on strategies to lessen food waste entering the landfill individually and in large group environments. Discover how impactful good messaging is along with the challenges faced in shifting people’s mindsets. Chantal Fortin from Chartwells at UNC Asheville will discuss how food waste is reduced on campus through various programs and Elizabeth Schussler from the Recycling Partnership will present the importance of education and outreach to change behavior. You will learn how to weave food waste reduction skills into our everyday lives and feel empowered to incorporate changes.

Valuing Food, the Farmers and the Eaters

food equity & access


Moderator: Cathy Cleary
Panelists: Mae Mims (12 Baskets), Claudie Babineaux (Bounty & Soul), Flori Pate (Food Connection), Delia Jovel Dubón (Tierra Fertil Co-op)

We will hear from representatives of local nonprofits, and a local farmer about how they are shifting the culture around what is considered “Food Waste.” Each organization has different strategies and works in collaboration to de-stigmatize food that is perfectly edible (and delicious), but in most cases not sell-able. Food Connection works to rescue unserved food and get it to places where it can be served. 12 Baskets is a free community cafe and distribution point for upcycled food and other food resources, while also providing an alternative meeting space to build community West Asheville. Bounty & Soul has no cost Produce to the People community markets for fresh produce and food distribution in addition to a program that hosts volunteers for gleaning on local farms and also pays farmers for their produce for free distribution. Tierra Fertil Co-op is a hispanic worker-owned cooperative farm.

1:30 Breakout Session 2

“Chill Mutual Aid” Share Programs and Food Recovery, 

food equity

Main Room

Moderator: Jenn Tuft
Presenters: Blake Hart (Haywood Christian Ministry), Laura Oxner (A Simple Gesture)

We will discuss innovative refrigeration projects that help capture and prevent food waste and make fresh foods more accessible to school children, families and rural communities. Hear about the in’s and out’s of open-access fridges in schools, refrigerated locker systems and partnering with external locations, organizations and public schools.

“Policy in Action” Tools, Programs, and Partnerships that Advance State Level Policy


Room A

Moderator: Kiera Bulan
Presenters: Alice Ammerman (UNC-Chapel Hill, Nutrition, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention), Heather Latino (Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic)

Deep dive into cutting edge initiatives supporting and activating state-level efforts to tackle food waste across the U.S. and here in NC. The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic’s groundbreaking research, publications, and collaborations with NRDC, WWF, ReFED and the Zero Waste Food Coalition have paved the way for state level action by identifying common barriers to food donation and best policy practices. Here in NC, The Food Recovery Working Group of the North Carolina Local Food Council in collaboration with local councils, Community Food Strategies and local universities NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill have initiated state policy action. Hear about their work securing funding from the NC legislature to support development of state level standard operating procedures for donation of unserved prepared meals. Come learn more about these programs and resources and the key functions of information sharing, research, and program development in policy work.

Climate Benefits of Composting Infrastructure


Room B

Moderator: Christy Hurlburt
Panelists: David Paull (Compost Now), Lucille Nelson (Dr. John Wilson Community Garden), Craig Coker (Coker Consulting & Composting) Adam Schwartz (Dirtcraft Organics) 

Join a dynamic panel of composting and soil professionals to learn about the climate benefits of composting.  This session will explore a breadth of composting infrastructure solutions from industrial to residential scale.  Participants will learn about the challenges and possibilities of building out large-scale composting infrastructure in the region.  You will discover the importance of healthy soil as it relates to local, sustainable agriculture. You will also learn how residents can participate and engage in composting systems, both through subscribing to pick up services and accessing community gardens.

“Tackling Food Waste at the Source” How food hubs reduce waste through expanded market access for farmers

Business opportunities


Moderator: Christine Wittmeier
Presenters: Jesse Leadbetter (Freshlist), Taylor Campbell (Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture/High Country Food Hub)

Explore the dynamic role of food hubs in creating, facilitating, and enhancing market access and opportunities for small-scale farmers, while simultaneously providing communities with increased access to fresh, local foods and ultimately reducing waste from unsold produce

2023 Food Waste Solutions Summit Presenters

Alice Ammerman

Professor, Director

UNC-Chapel Hill, Nutrition, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

I conduct research on household food waste reduction and work with the NC Local Food Council Food Recovery workgroup addressing policy strategies to create better standardized operating procedures for prepared food donations to food banks and pantries.


Claudie Babineaux

Farmers Alliance Program Manager

Bounty & Soul

Our organization receives donations of excess or unmarketable produce from local farms and retail establishments and distributes that food at our no cost Produce to the People community markets. We also work with farmers to glean surplus or unmarketable produce and we purchase b-grade or unsold produce from local farmers.

Elizabeth S. Biser


North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

Elizabeth S. Biser has served as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality since June of 2021, when she was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper. She is the first woman confirmed to serve as DEQ Secretary. In August of 2023, she was elected to serve as President of the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) the national nonprofit, nonpartisan association of state and territorial environmental agency leaders. As DEQ Secretary, she oversees the state agency whose mission is to protect North Carolina’s environment and natural resources.

Yvette Cabrera

Director, Food Waste

Natural Resources Defense Council

Yvette Cabrera focuses on building a better food system for people, the climate, and the environment. Cabrera oversees engagement on federal and state food waste policy and cutting-edge research on food waste. She also manages the Food Matters project, through which NRDC partners with cities to achieve meaningful reductions in food waste with comprehensive policies and programs. Before joining NRDC, Cabrera worked at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she managed the implementation of the food loss and waste initiative in the U.S. She is based in New York City.

Taylor Campbell

High Country Food Hub Manager

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture/High Country Food Hub

The High Country Food Hub is an online market that selling products grown and produced within 100 miles of Boone. We only receive exactly what is ordered, thus minimizing the amount of food waste.

Craig Coker

Coker Composting & Consulting

Coker Composting & Consulting (CC&C) is a sole proprietorship consultancy in organics recycling (composting and anaerobic digestion) founded in 2005. CC&C specializes in: facility planning, permitting support, pilot tests, site evaluations, technology assessments, facility design, construction management, equipment evaluations, operations manuals, operator training, and product marketing and sales support.

Benjamin Colvin

President & Founder

Devil’s Foot Beverage and Distillery

With 15 years of conservation work experience, Ben used that lens to launch Devil’s Foot Beverage Company. Through a vision of trademark “Farm-to-Can” practices and goals of the Full Fruit Life concept, Devil’s Foot continues to brew craft sodas that incorporate what is typically wasted – fruit zest, pomace, second-pressed fruit skins – to create truly unique, more sustainable products and company impacts.


Jeffrey Costantino

Communications Director


Jeff Costantino serves as Communications Director for ReFED, the national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste by advancing data-driven solutions. Prior to ReFED, Jeff worked at the Western Union Foundation, which funded educational programs for refugees and other migrants, and Truth Initiative, a public health foundation. His career started in the advertising field, serving in account management and client service roles on the agency side.


Evan Couzo

Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences

UNC Asheville

Dr. Couzo has studied air pollution and climate change for fifteen years benefitting both academic and government institutions. He researches air quality issues from pollutant emissions and public health to regulatory decision-making on climate change.  He uses both computer models and ground- and satellite- based measurements to better understand how ozone and particulate matter form, and how a changing climate will affect the planet.


Amanda Edwards

Buncombe County Comissioner

Chantal Fortin

Marketing & Sustainability Coordinator

Chartwells at UNC Asheville

I have been in a Sustainability Coordinator role for University Food Services for the last 7 years. It has been a great pleasure to work with our teams and students to educate and help find solutions to food waste on campus.

Caryn Hanna

Graphic Facilitator


Caryn Brownelle Hanna offers visuals in a variety of formats, from strategic illustrations to live graphic recordings. In a live venue, she works alongside a presenter or group to reflect the content of the conversation on a large poster that is visible to the group. The result can be a visual memory of the moment or an unfolding of a group process where their ideas become visible often allowing them to see different perspectives in a new way.

Jan Hardin

Solid Waste Program Manager

Waste Reduction Partners

Jan is the Solid Waste Program Manager with Waste Reduction Partners (WRP). In this role, she helps a variety of clients in North Carolina’s commercial, industrial, agricultural, educational and government sectors with no-cost technical assistance for waste reduction. Jan and her WRP team help clients divert thousands of tons from the landfill each year and avoid disposal costs.

Blake Hart

Executive Director

Haywood Christian Ministry

Blake is the executive director of Haywood Christian Ministry in Waynesville, NC. We receive food donations from area retailers and are able to redirect that food to people in need or, if too far gone, we supply it to area farmers for their needs.


Christy Hurlburt

Director of Product


Christy Hurlburt works at the intersection of technology and waste management. Her combination of sales, marketing, and business development skills helps companies launch new products into the market to solve our food waste challenges.

Jerry Jenkins

Production Manager

Hickory Nut Gap Meats

I was raised in California, and made my way out to WNC in 2017. My career started in the culinary field, before I eventually transitioned into butchery which led me to Hickory Nut Gap. I have been with the company nearly 5 years, and am very passionate about sustainability in the food system.

Kimber Jones

Agriculture & Natural Resources Coordinator

The Biltmore Company

Kimber has worked in sustainability at the Biltmore Estate for the last 5 years and led the creation of a centralized on-site aerated static pile compost facility for food waste and manure on the Estate.

Delia Jovel

Founder and owner member

Tierra Fertil Coop

Delia Jovel was born in El Salvador. Since 2016 she has been working in different initiatives related to education, advocacy and community organizing with Hispanic immigrants in Henderson County, NC. In 2020 Delia funded ABUNDANCIA, a culturally appropriate food distribution and TIERRA FERTIL COOP, a Hispanic worker owned farm cooperative that produces food by using organic practices. Delia is working on developing some other local initiatives as LAS FLORES COMMUNITY GARDEN and ESCUELA CAMPESINA to continue promoting food security, mutual aid and Hispanic leadership.

Heather Latino

Clinical Instructor

Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic

Heather Latino works to enhance access to affordable, safe, and healthy foods through policy improvements in nutrition assistance programs, food systems integration, food waste reduction, and food recovery. Heather earned her LL.M. in Food and Agricultural Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law and is passionate about creating a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable food system.


Jesse Ledbetter

Cofounder & CEO


Jesse Leadbetter co-founded Freshlist in 2014 as a technology company focused on connecting professional chefs directly to local farmers. However, after discovering a lack of infrastructure and resources to support Charlotte’s growing local food economy, he and his team launched the Freshlist food hub in 2017, which has become one of the East Coast’s largest hubs. Currently, Jesse is redirecting his attention to explore opportunities to leverage scalable technology to further empower farmers and strengthen local food systems in communities beyond Charlotte.

Mae Mims

Realities of Poverty Education Coordinator

Asheville Poverty Initiative

API rescues unsellable food items from local restaurants, grocery stores, caterers, and a variety of other community organizations. We then upscale the items for delicious sit down lunches and a modified choice pantry.


Lucille Nelson

Garden Manager

Dr. John Wilson Community Garden (Town of Black Mountain)

Lucille manages the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden in Black Mountain which has a volunteer-run community composting program where residents can bring their kitchen waste to be composted into soil for gardeners to grow in.


Laura Oxner

Director of Food Recovery

A Simple Gesture

Laura Oxner is the Director of food recovery at A Simple Gesture. Laura researches businesses that have leftover wholesome food to give and redirects these resources to 38+ vetted partner nonprofits in Guilford County, North Carolina. In August, A Simple Gesture established the nation’s first ever refrigerated SHARE program servicing all of the 126 Guilford County Public schools. This program is set to redirect 1 million lbs of food this school year alone.

Don Paleno

Chef Don

DJ’s Pickles

DJ’s Pickles was founded by Don Paleno, a veteran chef of 20 years and graduate of AB Tech Culinary School. We focus on fresh and fabulous refrigerator picles with local ingredients and chef crafted recipes.

Flori Pate

Co-Founder / Leader of Community Engagement

Food Connection

Flori Pate is Co-founder of Dig Local aka “Asheville’s App” and website that connects you experiences that are unique to Asheville. She also Co-created the nonprofit Food Connection in order to reduce food waste and ease hunger. She lives in Asheville with her husband/business partner, two sons and two chocolate labs.

David Paull

Chief Impact Officer

CompostNow Inc.

David is Chief Impact Officer and Co-founder of CompostNow. He has been a part of growing CompostNows impact over the past 11 years. CompostNow has diverted over 68 million lbs of food waste from landfills and helped create 22 million lbs of finished compost for local farms and gardens.

Diego Ramirez


Kim Roney

Asheville City Council Member

Elizabeth Schussler

Sr Dir Social Change, Behavior & Impact

The Recycling Partnership’s Center for Sustainable Behavior & Impact

I focus on research and developing solutions to reduce the “intention-action gap” around waste. People are peopley- we all have barriers and motivations.

Adam Schwartz


Dirtcraft Organics

A lifelong environmentalist, farmer, composter and agri-preneur. Adam is passionate about building a resilient and just local food system, and moved to WNC in 2015 for the opportunity to live a rural lifestyle in stewardship with the land. He founded Dirtcraft Organics to serve the need for peat-free and compost-based soil mixes among farmers in our region. Dirtcraft is currently constructing a composting facility in Marshall, NC slated to open in 2024.

Bert Sheffeild

R&D Chef

White labs Inc/Brewing Co

Chef Bert Sheffield is the Research and Development Chef at White Labs, Inc. A Louisiana native with a strong background fermented foods, whole animal butchery and charcuterie, accompanied by a passion for food science and the art of preserving and procuring foods via local farms and fermentation. 


Jessie Sugarman

Policy Analyst

Environmental Law Institute

Jessie Sugarman works on municipal climate and waste reduction with a special focus on food waste in Nashville. In this role, she develops model policies to help municipalities and advocates advance food waste reduction and promote sustainability at the local government level. Jessie’s previous work at ELI spanned a number of topics at the intersection of policy and the environment, including oceans, digital technology, and indoor air quality. She is based in Pittsburgh, PA.


Christine Wittmeier

Organics Recycling Specialist

North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

Christine Wittmeier works for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s state recycling office in the Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (DEACS). As the Organics Recycling Specialist, Christine works to expand the state’s food recovery and compost infrastructure by providing technical assistance, resources and grant funding to private businesses, local governments and non-profits. Christine has also been a volunteer for Food Waste Solutions since 2019.


Save the Date!


November 9, 2023 | 8:30AM-4:30PM


Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center
16 Fernihurst Drive
Asheville, NC 28801

Platinum Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

In-Kind Sponsors

Join Our Amazing Group of Community Sponsors!

Sponsoring this important event is a great way to showcase your commitment to quality of life and environmental stewardship in our community.

Platinum Event Partner

$ 2500
  • As a lead Platinum Sponsor for the event, your logo will be prominently integrated to all online and print event promotion. You're invited to curate your own table/booth presence at the event and a representative from your business or organization will be invited to share about your support of the work during the program.
  • A company representative will be invited to say a few words during the event and will be thanked by the summit during the welcome.

Gold Sponsor

$ 1000
  • This generous level of Gold Sponsorship provides high logo visibility in all print and online promotional materials leading up to the event. At the summit, your support will be highlighted during the opening remarks and you're invited to set up a table display.
  • During the event, guests will see and hear your company highlighted during the opening remarks. 

Silver Sponsor

$ 500
  • Silver Sponsors' logos will appear on the Summit webpage. They will also be named in event promotional materials, are invited to set up a table display in the sponsorship area, and will be acknowledged during opening remarks.

Bronze Sponsor

$ 250
  • Bronze Sponsors' names will be included on the Summit webpage. They are also invited to contribute materials to the sponsorship table and will be acknowledged during opening remarks.

Community Contributor

$ 25-100
  • This grassroots support level is a place for individuals, small businesses and organizations to demonstrate their support for FWS, please consider giving what you can to bolster this important food waste reduction work in our community!

Have a product you’d like to donate in-kind to support this event? We gladly recognize in-kind contributions toward sponsorship levels, please contact Gina at to discuss details.

Want to pay for sponsorship by check?

Download our sponsor form and follow the instructions.

Travel Stipend Scholarship Opportunity

In an effort to include participants from across the region the WNC Food Justice Planning Initiative is sponsoring a limited amount of travel stipends and scholarships to participants who would not otherwise be able to attend. Applicants should live or work outside of Buncombe County. If you are interested in this opportunity please fill out this form:

Learn More About Our Past Food Waste Solutions Summits

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Bountiful Cities is the fiscal sponsor for Food Waste Solutions WNC. Once you are done with the payment process please wait to be redirected to our sponsorship form page so that we can collect additional information.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Bountiful Cities is the fiscal sponsor for Food Waste Solutions WNC. Once you are done with the payment process please wait to be redirected to our sponsorship form page so that we can collect additional information.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Bountiful Cities is the fiscal sponsor for Food Waste Solutions WNC. Once you are done with the payment process please wait to be redirected to our sponsorship form page so that we can collect additional information.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Bountiful Cities is the fiscal sponsor for Food Waste Solutions WNC. Once you are done with the payment process please wait to be redirected to our sponsorship form page so that we can collect additional information.