ReFED Announces Nearly $1 Million in Grants to Six Organizations Fighting Restaurant Food Waste Through Its Catalytic Grant Fund


ReFED Announces Nearly $1 Million in Grants to Six Organizations Fighting Restaurant Food Waste Through Its Catalytic Grant Fund

April 25, 2024

Today, ReFED, the U.S.-based nonprofit working to catalyze food businesses toward evidence-based action to stop wasting food, announced the next cohort of grantees to receive funding through its ReFED Catalytic Grant Fund, a first-of-its-kind initiative designed to support food waste solutions with catalytic funding that can unlock outsized impact. The Catalytic Grant Fund provides nonprofit and for-profit organizations with recoverable and non-recoverable grants coupled with tailored post-grant support to advance initiatives with high impact potential as measured by food waste reduced and GHG emissions reduced.

In partnership with, the social impact arm of Toast, this second open call of the ReFED Catalytic Grant Fund is seeking to make a systems-level impact on the problem of food waste in restaurants by awarding a total of nearly $1 million to six organizations offering promising solutions. In the United States, 38% of all food—the equivalent of nearly 145 billion meals—goes unsold or uneaten. The restaurant and foodservice sector is responsible for nearly 15% of that amount, with the vast majority ending up in landfills, where it generates methane and other harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Building upon its knowledge of capital and innovation in the food waste space, ReFED developed the Catalytic Grant Fund as an easy way for funders like and other supporters of this open call to quickly make an impact in reducing food waste via a pooled financing vehicle that provides patient, risk-tolerant, and flexible capital to solution providers.

“Restaurants are such an important part of our food system, as they prepare and serve the meals that nourish our families and communities,” said Angel Veza, Senior Manager of Capital, Innovation, & Engagement at ReFED. “However, they are also a source of significant food waste, with slim margins, labor constraints, and other challenges making food waste reduction cost-prohibitive, inconvenient, and inaccessible for most restaurants to date. Our goal with this open call of the Catalytic Grant Fund is to help restaurants gain access to solutions that enable them to be more sustainable and climate-friendly, while still providing a unique dining experience for guests.”

The organizations receiving grants provide food waste solutions that are simple, affordable, and convenient to implement and/or have a strong business case for small to medium-sized independent restaurants. The selected organizations include:

  • Afterlife Ag is a mushroom farming company offering a circular solution that allows restaurants to divert their food waste from landfills and then purchase the mushrooms grown from the otherwise wasted food.

  • Center for EcoTechnology (CET) offers direct technical assistance to food businesses on wasted food reduction, recovery, and recycling and is developing a “train the trainer” program to enable other organizations to replicate CET's work and offer technical assistance to restaurants in their communities.

  • ConnectedFresh Company uses sensors and AI to identify and flag issues with food safety and aging equipment, preventing significant spoilage and emergency repairs, and is enhancing their 24/7 monitoring solutions to include advanced inventory management and waste tracking for restaurants.

  • Food Rescue US is implementing a data-sharing feature within their existing food rescue web-based app to make food donation easier for restaurants by creating a dedicated API endpoint that will seamlessly integrate with the POS systems commonly used by restaurants.

  • Green Dining Alliance certifies restaurants for sustainability and will offer restaurants an opportunity to receive direct support to implement and track food waste reduction strategies.

  • Prism is developing a storage system designed for restaurants that uses a controlled atmosphere to extend the lifespan of fresh produce.

“From our work with restaurants of all sizes and kinds, we know that food waste is a huge issue across the industry,” said Jonathan Grimm, Co-Founder of Toast and CTO of “We know truly combating food waste will require coming at the issue from all angles—we’ve already begun exploring how we might be able to remedy this issue with our own products, and partnering with ReFED and these grantees is the next step in finding solutions that can make real change for our industry and our planet.”

"Afterlife Ag is thrilled to partner with ReFED and Our goal has always been to prevent valuable food and food byproducts from going to landfills. The support from the ReFED Catalytic Grant Fund is an amazing opportunity that will allow us to exponentially expand our capacity to upcycle urban food waste, work with more restaurants, and accelerate circular farming so more people have access to local, sustainable mushrooms," said Winson Wong, CEO of Afterlife Ag.

To bolster the catalytic nature of the funding, ReFED is also selecting a subset of grantees to pilot their food waste initiatives with restaurants, with the goal of further enhancing solutions that can be scaled or replicated to drive industry-wide impact. The pilots, expected to take place in the summer and fall of 2024, will provide these restaurants with a chance to be at the forefront of fighting food waste while also creating cost-saving opportunities and positive environmental and social impact.

This open call of the Catalytic Grant Fund attracted nearly 150 organizations with a wide range of proposed solutions, from enhanced demand planning and shelf-life extension solutions to tech-based food donation initiatives and on-site anaerobic digestion technologies. The total amount of funding requested from these applicants was roughly $22 million, which further demonstrates the urgent need for funding food waste solutions that can help achieve national and international food waste reduction goals. This amount is in addition to the $99 million of funding that was requested last fall through the Catalytic Grant Fund’s first open call, which focused on consumer food waste.

The Catalytic Grant Fund is an important part of ReFED’s service offerings for potential funders of food waste solutions. Using ReFED’s own analyses of which sectors and solutions can drive the greatest impact, the Catalytic Grant Fund offers an easy way for funders to support promising food waste solution providers selected by ReFED. In addition to the Catalytic Grant Fund, ReFED launched the Food Waste Funder Circle, a curated platform for education, collaboration, and investment specifically designed for funders interested in helping drive capital flow to the space. ReFED also provides the Food Waste Capital Tracker, which has real-time insights on food waste financing, from broader industry trends to deal-level details; deal flow reports featuring hundreds of available financing opportunities; virtual pitch events; and more, all designed to provide potential funders with the data and insights they need to develop a food waste funding strategy.

“Catalytic capital is critical to advancing food waste solutions and achieving national climate goals, but it can be challenging to assess which solutions can have the greatest impact,” said ReFED’s Veza. “That’s why the Catalytic Grant Fund and its open calls are crafted with data and evidence gathered from across the food industry. It’s a key part of a suite of services offered by ReFED for funder education, collaboration, and investment. We’re giving funders who want to use their capital to solve the food waste challenge an opportunity to drive the greatest impact with their dollars.”

To stay updated on the ReFED Catalytic Grant Fund, click here.

To learn about all six grantees and the impactful work they’re doing, visit the Grantee Directory.

If you’re interested in contributing to the Catalytic Grant Fund, please contact Alexandria Coari, VP of Capital, Innovation & Engagement at ReFED at [email protected].

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow.

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