Current Projects

TitleDescriptionExamples of Convergence
A Data Ontology for the Wasted Food Space
Clusters: Data
PIs & SP Involved: Roe, Li, Apolzan, Li, Wilson, Spang

This project will review existing ontologies relevant to food waste data and generate an ontology that facilitates data interoperability for data collected to document wasted food and to support food waste reduction efforts.

Interdisciplinary groups that might use the data will be involved in developing the ontology.

Analysis of the Environmental Health Impacts of Food Donation and Redistribution Systems
Clusters: Rescue

This project will create a novel integrated system assessment approach by integrating life cycle, system dynamic, and health statistical assessment, providing foundational knowledge about effective strategies maximizing societal benefits of food donation, such as increasing food access and security of socially disadvantaged population groups, reducing food waste, and improving environmental sustainability of food rescue systems.

Integration across environmental engineering, system modeling, health and social behavioral, and policy sciences.

Assessing Food Recovery Organizations in Washington, DC
Clusters: Rescue
PIs & SP Involved: Ranganathan, Friedman

This project seeks to understand what organizations are doing in Washington, DC with respect to food recovery and food redistribution. We will examine the strategies they are using to become successful as well as any limitations that they believe are preventing them from reaching their potential.

Assessment of Individual/Household Level Food Practices that Drive Food Waste
Clusters: Community
PIs & SP Involved: Snelling, McClave, Edwards, Rowniewski, Claus

This project will work with DC community groups including Ward 7 Faith-Based Organizations, DC Public Schools, and community members to evaluate the impact of tailored interventions (particularly various drivers of health) on levels of household food waste.

Health science researchers partnering with ethnographic researchers to conduct focus groups.

Assessment of Policy Frameworks Associated with the Most Sustainable Wasted Food Practices
Clusters: Policy

This project will examine choices and values by government actors at different scales to understand how food waste policies are being designed, reported, implemented, and assessed in order to find a scalable decision support tool that informs how policies and infrastructure may be more successful.

Working with collaborators in policy, biology, environmental engineering, and industrial design expertise.

A Textual Analysis of Economic Speeches on Agriculture 1919-2022
Clusters: Policy
PIs & SP Involved: Wilson, Neff, Graddy-Lovelace, Harper

The goal of this project is to understand how, if at all, policymakers and researchers have discussed and assessed policies historically that create wasted foods today. This work will reveal how wasted food has long historical developments that alter our current thoughts of this challenge as new. The work could re-frame current policy discourse around wasted food.

Bringing together economics, geography, public health, and nutrition. We are using different data, the text of speeches, and different methods, textual analysis, to develop new knowledge and ways of knowing of the how policy may shape wasted food.

Chemical Preparation of Food Packaging from Wasted Food
Clusters: Valorization
PIs & SP Involved: Hartings, Wenig

Through chemistry and materials science, we will exploit valuable food waste streams as feed-stocks to produce high value materials and generate new packaging materials for long-term food storage.

The valorization cluster and modeling clusters will identify opportunities for materials chemistry.

Chicago Food Loss and Waste (Chi-FLoW)
Clusters: Co-Design, Community, Rescue, Typologies
PIs & SP Involved: Ashton, Sungu, Shea, Davis, Verba

This project will work with community organizations in Chicago’s food loss and waste landscape to help identify priorities in order to scale food waste solutions.

Attracting new stakeholders to develop strategies for more effectively coordinating efforts for food loss/waste prevention/rescue/reuse and build educational activities.

Comparative Assessment of Digestate Management Strategies
Clusters: Valorization

This project will conduct a comparative assessment, using life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis, of at least two options for digestate management to help inform decision-making for technology deployment in relation to policies pushing for increased organic waste diversion.

UC Davis and RIT valorization groups collaborating.

Convergence Assessment & Social Network Analysis
Clusters: Co-Design
PIs & SP Involved: Wilson, Daly, Wood

The goal of this project is to understand the barriers and facilitators of convergence within the RECIPES Network. By conducting a series of interviews with members of the network, we will later assess how convergence has evolved. We will use this data to create a Social Network Analysis (SNA) based on participation in the network meetings, project reports, and surveys.

This internal review will identify ways that collaboration occurs or does not occur.

DCI Research & Activities
Clusters: DCI
PIs & SP Involved: Cox, Opoku, Harper

The Diversity & Culture of Inclusion Cluster is (1) studying the extent to which the structure and procedures undertaken within RECIPES effectively promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, (2) applying a human-centered design framework to foster convergence, and (3) implementing effective DEI practices across Network clusters.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Student Research Immersions
Clusters: DCI

These research immersions for D/HH students facilitate direct experience in scientific research aimed at increasing future recruitment and retention in graduate training. We conduct professional development workshops and information sessions on creating an inclusive environment and accessible space for D/HH students. We will also advise RECIPES sites as they prepare to host a student researcher and address logistical concerns, which typically revolve around interpersonal communication and lab safety. The goal of initiative is to ultimately increase the number of D/HH students that go on to graduate degrees and careers in STEM.

Driving Change: Volunteer Management and Engagement in Food Recovery Operations
Clusters: Community, Rescue
PIs & SP Involved: Chavis, Burke, Welcher, Chukwurah, Kaminski

The food recovery system is reliant on a network of volunteers who recover, repackage, and distribute excess food. This project will study the role of volunteers in food recovery operations in urban environments in the United States to assess three focus areas: 1) Understand personal drivers/motivators and costs incurred as volunteers 2) Evaluate transportation emissions related to food recovery operations, and 3) Assess the value of volunteer labor in how it impacts food recovery operations

Researchers from engineering, public health and analytics working together through multiple clusters including Community, Valorization, and Co-Design.

Education Evaluation
Clusters: Education
PIs & SP Involved: Irvine Belson, Locher, Troy

We seek to understand students’ and professors’ knowledge and behaviors relative to wasted food and food systems, and through research into evaluatory programs for the Food for Thought course, Food-Fueled Undergraduate Food Systems Science Journal, and research experiences for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing undergraduate students, we hope to further research how students and professors work together to create research about wasted food.

Ending Wasted Food for Climate: Agrarian Movements at UNFCCC
Clusters: Policy
PIs & SP Involved: Graddy-Lovelace

Dominant agri-food systems are key drivers--and victims--of climate crisis, with vast carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane emissions. Finally, food and agriculture feature prominently at the UNFCCC global climate negotiations. This paper, in a special feature on collaborative event ethnography of COP27 for the journal Climate & Development, traced the role of food and agriculture topics, and agrarian justice movements at COP27 (and COP28). We tracked how wasted food mitigation could have garnered global consensus around methane drawdown pledges, but has not yet.

Evaluating and Mitigating Bias in Food System Data Collection and Modeling
Clusters: Data, DCI
PIs & SP Involved: Roe, Cox, Li, Wilson, Stack Whitney, Burke, Chukwurah, Shu

The group will seek to understand the approaches to evaluating and minimizing the potential for biases during the collection of data concerning the food system to ensure that modeling based upon fully supports diversity, equity, inclusivity and justice efforts.

Researchers from data science, DCI, engineering, and environmental policy working together.

Exploring Stakeholder Responses to Organic Waste Diversion Requirements under California Senate Bill 1383 (SB 1383)
Clusters: Community, Policy
PIs & SP Involved: Spang, Lamoureaux

The goal of this research is to gain a deeper understanding of how the implementation of the organic waste diversion regulatory requirement under SB 1383 is affecting a variety of stakeholders across the food supply chain, including the jurisdictions within which they operate, and to better understand the state of preparedness of food recovery stakeholders in California.

Knowledge exchange among researchers from different states investigating similar food waste reduction policy and its impacts on climate change and food security.

Food-Fueled Undergraduate Student Science Journal
Clusters: Education
PIs & SP Involved: Hartings, Tileva, Garcia, Dehner, Derrick

Food-Fueled is a peer-reviewed, online-only, and open access journal managed by undergraduate students under the guidance of faculty advisors. Goals of the journal are to engage students in rigorous knowledge creation and sharing through peer-review and to provide a platform for diverse and under-represented perspectives on food systems. These activities will support students’ ability to evaluate claims and apply scientific knowledge and learn about the peer review process.

Student editorial team is made up of a range of disciplines.

Food Agency and Food Waste in the DMV
Clusters: Community
PIs & SP Involved: Claus, Dowdy

This project is based on qualitative, ethnographic fieldwork in Washington, DC to explore various aspects of food access, food agency, and food waste, primarily focusing on farmers markets and community gardening in the city. The questions of interest revolve around the consumers’ perception of farmer's markets in reducing food waste, increasing agency, and addressing food insecurity in the DC area.

We started this cross-disciplinary project with researchers in public health and ideally would like to be able to return to transdisciplinary collaborations after we have undertaken ethnographic fieldwork.

Food for Thought: Why Waste?
Clusters: Education
PIs & SP Involved: Jardine, DeBruin, Beran

This created a complete academic course and embedded educational resources that institutions can use to teach students about wasted food, aligned with inquiry-based, high impact course design. It engages students with issues of sustainability, social justice, and convergence research more broadly. The course could potentially "plant the seed" in the minds of undergraduate students to focus on wasted food as a career or area of graduate study. The project also researches impact on students' learning, impact on instructors' teaching, and the process of developing a course informed by a large research network.

Food Matters Evaluation
Clusters: Community, Rescue
PIs & SP Involved: Richardson, Neff, Harper

This project will develop an evaluation of interventions implemented by multiple local governments through the NRDC Food Matters Program. It will seek to understand intervention impacts across different local government typology settings, and gain insights to support adapting to context. The current iteration of the evaluation plan involves using semi-structured interviews and reported data from participating cities to characterize impacts of the Food Matters interventions on a) executive leadership activities, b) provision of incentives or technical assistance, c) public engagement and d) data collection or analysis of food rescue activities.

The plan will be co-developed in partnership between RECIPES researchers and NRDC staff. After the team defines the purpose further, but before the project is fully established, they will open the invitation more broadly for RECIPES collaboration, to advance further convergence.

Fresh Rescue Champions: An Employee-Engaged Approach to Reducing Food Waste and Improving Donation in Retail Settings
Clusters: Co-Design, Community, Rescue

The purpose of this study is to implement and evaluate an employee-engaged cohort model focused on improving food donation in Albertsons-banner grocery stores. Through this process, the cohort will create prototypes that will be tested in four stores in the Mid-Atlantic division.

Public Health
Social design (Human-centered design)

Gleaning for Sustainability: Understanding Farmers’ Social, Environmental, and Economic Motivations for Charitable Food Donation
Clusters: Co-Design, Community, Rescue
PIs & SP Involved: Wilson

This will be a qualitative study of motivations of gleaning as a means to mitigate food waste and address food insecurity.

Merging of economics, social sciences, and environmental studies.

Groundwater Depletion in US Agri-food Supply Chains
Clusters: Modeling
PIs & SP Involved: Konar

This ongoing project will estimate the source of irrigation water by crop, producing a high-resolution understanding of how water is used in our food supply chains and the long-term risks that unsustainable water use poses for food supply chains.

Convergence of hydrology, land use, and supply chains disciplines.

Impact Analysis of State Food Waste Policies
Clusters: Policy, Valorization
PIs & SP Involved: Spang, Kakadellis

This project will conduct a quantitative investigation into the impact of individual policy types on food waste diversion. This will involve (1) quantifying per capita food waste levels per state (total food waste), (2) establishing a theoretical total food waste diversion potential addressed by individual state policies (applicable food waste) and (3) developing quantitative conversion factors for policy scoring to estimate the range of food waste (likely food waste) reduction achievable.

Collaboration with data, modeling, and policy clusters.

Incorporating Waste into Dynamic Equilibrium Models
Clusters: Modeling
PIs & SP Involved: Cai, Siddiqui, Tibebu, Roe, Jeong

There are two existing models, DrFEWS, which is a CGE, and US-FEAST, which is a partial equilibrium model. This project will investigate methods of incorporating waste in both models.

Convergence of economics, mathematics, and engineering through combining two different modeling techniques.

Modeling and Metrics for Sustainability, Resilience, and Equity
Clusters: Modeling

This project will incorporate new metrics for resilience and equity within models of food systems and wasted food. It will also develop mechanisms for quantifying tradeoffs within existing and new models.

There are four faculty from different disciplines and modeling backgrounds seeking to create new common knowledge around metrics in modeling. The modeling can also be applied to different scenarios and topics.

Modeling Framework to Connect Input/output Models, Optimization, and LCA
Clusters: Modeling
PIs & SP Involved: Siddiqui, Tibebu, Gephart, Romeiko, Konar, Lee

This project is a new modeling paradigm that captures regional food system interactions and that has explicit process representation and accounts for marginal changes as a result of decisions by integrating the process representation of optimization models, the aggregation of IO models, and the marginal, nonlinear representation of equilibrium models. LCA is then integrated into this framework, filling the need for consequential models of circular economy solutions.

This project produces new common knowledge in the modeling space that can advance modeling of regional systems through new methods by combining different strengths of modeling frameworks into one modeling paradigm.

National Food Waste Tracking Survey
Clusters: Data
PIs & SP Involved: Roe, Li, Wilson, Ellison, Neff

This ongoing project is a means of tracking the amount of household food waste created in the US. It will permit assessment of national changes to levels of household food waste necessary to evaluate if national goals are being met for this part of the food value chain.

Working with a broad array of researchers and stakeholders to implement additional questions on the survey that can provide insights into boundary-spanning issues.

Clusters: Community
PIs & SP Involved: Ellison, Pflugh Prescott

This project will develop a cooking curriculum that simultaneously promotes healthy eating and reduces food waste in low-income/low-resource households.

Optimal Locations for Food Waste Digesters
Clusters: Modeling, Valorization
PIs & SP Involved: Lee, Awotoye, Chavis, Babbitt

Using mathematical modeling, an optimization model will be developed to find optimal locations, numbers and capacities of food waste digesters. As a second step, the State of New York data will be applied to find actual optimal numbers, locations and capacities of food waste digesters in the State of New York.Morgan State provides technical part of optimization, and RIT provides the data and the knowledge of food waste digestion process

Morgan State provides the technical part of optimization, and RIT provides the data and the knowledge of the food waste digestion process.

Parity & Supply Management: Analyzing Farm Policies to Prevent Commodity Crop Overproduction
Clusters: Policy
PIs & SP Involved: Graddy-Lovelace, Norman, Williams

This project will help clarify root causes of commodity crop overproduction and supply bottlenecks associated with industrial agri-food systems. It will also help forge research collaborations with farmers and farm justice movement leaders that center agrarian equity and farm-based expertise in these questions of waste and surplus.

Reducing Barriers to Food Gleaning in Washington, DC
Clusters: Community, Rescue
PIs & SP Involved: Ranganathan, Friedman

This project will survey vendors and gleaning partners to ascertain what barriers they currently face in connecting excess food to interested gleaners and inform possibilities for increasing food gleaning in Washington, DC.

Role of Food Waste in Transport of Plastic Debris to the Environment
Clusters: Community, Data, Valorization

This project will explore the interactions among food waste and plastic waste. Objectives include quantifying and characterizing the packaging and other food contaminants associated with food purchase, prep, and disposal, the abundance of contamination in common valorization outputs such as anaerobic digesters and composting facilities, and the ultimate role of wasted food as a vehicle to transport microplastic to the environment.

Integration of plastic tracking into waste tracking technologies.

Transportation Literature Review
Clusters: Miscellaneous
PIs & SP Involved: Chavis, Lee, Talley, Kabir, Awotoye, Chukwurah

This project aims to synthesize the role that transportation plays in both the creation and reduction of food waste.

Typologies of Wasted Food
Clusters: Typologies
PIs & SP Involved: Neff, Talley, Cozzan, Kabir, Babbitt, Roe, Burke, Chavis, Yang

This project will create the first regional system typology framework specific to wasted food, in contexts across urban-rural dimensions, socioeconomic status, population size, infrastructure age, and governance.

Interdisciplinary research across public health, modeling, engineering, and economics.

Using Bilevel Optimization for Decisions in National-Level Food Systems
Clusters: Modeling
PIs & SP Involved: Siddiqui, Lee

This project will introduce a new modeling structure integrating life-cycle analysis and optimization problems to quantify the environmental impacts caused by wasted food on our food system and assess new policies.

Integrating connections with economics, engineering, and policy analyses and researchers.

Valorization Literature Review
Clusters: Valorization

This review is intended to identify knowledge gaps to better enable the design and implementation of valorization technologies able to manage wasted food that cannot be minimized or managed in other ways.

Collaborations across four (+) universities and between students and faculty in varied disciplines (engineering, sustainability, chemistry, ecology, policy, business, design).

Ways FoodImage App Might Be Useful for Community Cluster Projects
Clusters: Community, Data
PIs & SP Involved: Apolzan, Martin, Roe, Li

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the utility of an app-based method for quantifying food waste in controlled conditions, as well as free living conditions. The app is designed to quantify food waste that occurs when food is prepared, eaten, and discarded when refrigerators and cabinets are cleaned out. The app also determines the disposition of food waste or where the waste goes (e.g., fed to pets, garbage/landfill, sink disposal, compost bin, etc.). Finally, the app quantifies food purchases as well, allowing us to evaluate if pricing and/or healthfulness in which food is acquired (e.g., buying things in bulk) is associated with waste. The app and associated methodology have other applications and we are eager to overcome the limitations of the method, which primarily revolved around scalability. We are pursuing technology (e.g., semi-automated computer imaging) to do so.

Computing and AI

WWF + RECIPES: A longitudinal case study on food waste hotspots and intervention strategies to reduce food waste in K-12 schools
Clusters: Community, Data, Education, Typologies

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect of food waste reduction strategies and identify factors that influence the development and sustainability of strategies implemented in four public school districts across a two-year, multi-site initiative.

Working with collaborators in education, nutrition, and non-profit sectors.