Talking Waste Prevention with Rita Alison, LeanPath’s New Program Director

By Janet Haugan, Vice President of Customer Success  //  August 30, 2017

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Rita Alison recently joined the LeanPath team working as a Program Director on strategic enterprise accounts, leading new projects and innovation in food waste prevention, and helping clients accelerate food waste reduction results. We sat down with Rita to learn more about her passion for food waste minimization and what drives her personally and professionally.

Why did you decide to join the LeanPath team?

The decision to work with the LeanPath team represented an opportunity to bring together a career and a passion. It’s important for me to feel like I am making a difference, in some way, each and every day. Through LeanPath, I know I am helping others prevent food waste and impacting our environment, society and economics. I think Steve Jobs said it best, “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t need to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” That’s what working with LeanPath is like for me.

What experience do you have in working on food waste reduction? 

For nine years, I worked with a global contracted food service organization in the area of environmental sustainability. During that time I was able to work on programs that significantly prevented and reduced wasted food from going to the landfill through programs like tray-less dining, reusable to-go containers, food donation, waste audits, composting programs and food waste education and awareness events.

How do you think your background has prepared you for this role? 

I think my upbringing in rural Pennsylvania has a lot to do with my passion for waste minimization. I grew up with two sets of grandparents that survived the Great Depression, nature loving parents, and an uncle that started one of the first recycling centers in the area. I’ve also done a lot of volunteering over the years at waste minimization events in our community. I’ve learned how important education and awareness is to changing wasteful behavior and that it’s equally important to understand what motivates someone to prevent waste. All of this helps me in my current role with LeanPath. 

What is the most creative waste minimization strategy you’ve come across? 

Personally, I like waste minimization events that help create an “A Ha” moment for people. Two of my favorites are “Feeding the 5000” and “Pumpkin Palooza” at our local zoo and science center. Feeding the 5000 events focus on utilizing food that may otherwise have gone to waste (ugly produce, different species of fish, etc.) to feed a large group of people. Pumpkin Palooza is an annual event each October where local pumpkin farmers donate leftover pumpkins to the zoo or local science center to feed and create enrichments for the animals. Both events have educational components about food waste minimization.  

How do you combat food waste at home? 

I’m married to a former chef of 25+ years who is also passionate about food waste. Needless to say, the Alison Household has a “No Food Waste” rule. The rule is even posted in our kitchen as a reminder to our friends and family. Our biggest food waste issue comes into play with our first grader who’s a picky eater. Since he started school a year ago, I’ve come to the realization that if I don’t want food to be wasted, I better ask him each day what he wants me to pack for lunch! While I want him to have a nutritious lunch, I also don’t want to see food wasted at the end of the day. It’s a daily negotiation, but it’s working.

Contact Rita Alison
ralison@leanpath.com
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