Shared Plate Pledge


Over 100 billion pounds of food are wasted in the United States every year. At the same time, over 44 million Americans still face food insecurity. For decades, we have worked to address these problems, and although progress has been made, there is still much left to do.

Recently, the White House convened a landmark summit addressing these very issues, bringing together stakeholders from various sectors to brainstorm and strategize solutions. These ambitions also resonate with central themes from COP28, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 2 - which seeks to end hunger, achieve food security, and improve nutrition - and SDG 12 - which prioritizes reducing food loss and waste. Backed by policy, global attention, and urgent need, the time is now and the pieces are there.

This is a call for anyone who shares a deep passion for bettering the food space to align behind a set of three core beliefs. A set of values & principles that will set the table for constructive and effective collaboration. These beliefs will get us closer to the day where every single person in this country has access to healthy, nutritious food. 

Belief 1: Embracing innovation in food rescue

Before food is waste, it is abundance. And, for many, this abundance is the main resource available to access fresh, nutritious food. Despite this, many farmers have shared the same sentiment: it can be easier to sell food, or to dump food, than it is to donate food.

For growers & shippers, it often costs money to throw away food. If donating surplus were easier for farmers and food distributors, they and the charitable food space would benefit. If we can design solutions that save donors’ money, time, and other resources, we will recover more food in the short and long term.

At the same time, it costs food banks, food pantries, and community-level organizations time and resources to dispose of unusable food. As such, innovation that enables less waste - and more quality food - not just at the donor level, but through each level of the charitable food system, is necessary to make true progress.

Our Commitments: 

Innovation and Adaptability: We are committed to exploring and embracing new technologies, methods, and collaborative approaches that enhance food rescue efficiency. While not all organizations can implement these changes immediately, we encourage a mindset of innovation and adaptability as opportunities for advancement arise.

Building Each Other Up: We aspire to create a community of learning and collaboration. Understanding the varied capabilities and resources among us, we aspire to support each other, especially smaller or less-resourced organizations. This support might manifest as training, sharing resources, or mentorship opportunities, provided as available and applicable.

Belief 2: Donor choice improves outcomes

Every time a zero-cost donation of food enters the hunger fighting space, that decision is made at the discretion of the food donor. They choose what to do with their abundance, assessing their overall efficiency and savings, as well as environmental and social impact.

In this collaborative effort, we understand and support the donor’s choice. At the same time, we uphold the principle that no single charity has permanent exclusive rights to a donor's generosity. The donor has the right to contribute to the organization of their choice. The result of that choice typically reflects one of two positive outcomes:

  1. The selected charity has demonstrated a more efficient and effective service to that particular food donor, potentially enabling the donor to contribute more significantly in the future.
  2. Alternatively, the chosen charity communicated such a compelling and urgent need that, despite a higher cost to the donor, the donor has chosen to work with them. This act should be celebrated as it signifies strong donor engagement with the charitable food system.

In both scenarios, the choice made by the donor contributes to the broader mission of fighting hunger. It signifies a win-win situation that results in a more connected and supported donor base. This dynamic ensures that the entire hunger-fighting ecosystem remains responsive, adaptive, and ultimately more effective in meeting the needs of communities and food donors.

Our Commitments: 

Respecting Donor Autonomy: When farmers choose to donate zero-cost food, autonomy in their decision as to who to donate to is a win-win for the entire supply chain. No recipient should consider themselves universally preferred in this process, or discourage the donor from working with other recipients. The decision should be made based on the most efficient and impactful choice that most effectively resonates with the goals of the donor.

Fostering Open Dialogue: We aspire to cultivate a culture where constructive dialogue and a cooperative mindset are the norms. This involves openly discussing any concerns about donation practices and maintaining an open-minded approach to collaboration. By sharing best practices and learning from each other, we aim to enhance our collective effectiveness and impact in the battle against hunger.

Belief 3: We are stronger together

Across the country, hunger-fighting charities often encounter situations where they have access to more food than they can use or store. This excess, rather than posing a problem, should represent a success in sourcing and an opportunity for collaboration. Imagine a local food bank with access to an excess of a particular food item. By connecting this surplus with other charities, they amplify their own hunger-fighting efforts, better support the food donor, and reduce environmental impact. It is not the sole financial & logistical burden of the local food bank to figure this out, either. Increasingly, pathways exist for this abundance sharing to take place anywhere in the country.

A testament to the power of collaboration is the landmark effort from September 2023, where 100 food banks across 20 states partnered and delivered over 36 million apples to communities facing hunger. This display of collective capacity sets a powerful example for future opportunities.

Our Commitments: 

Collaborative Redistribution of Surplus: We commit to identifying and redistributing quality surplus food wherever possible. This involves reaching out and sharing resources with other hunger-fighting organizations. Our aim is to ensure that all known quality surplus finds its way to those who need it most, prioritizing the best end result regardless of the means.

Shared Success, Shared Mission: By prioritizing the final outcome – the actual delivery and dignified accessibility of food to those facing hunger – we reinforce our mutual dedication to this cause. The quality of our work has serious consequences for our planet and its people. We aspire to create systems that effectively track our nutritional & climate impact as one. 

Conclusion: Impact Across All Fronts

As we come together under The Shared Plate Pledge, our collective efforts stand to create meaningful and lasting impact across three crucial areas:

Alleviating Hunger: The heart of our pledge lies in the goal of ensuring that nutritious, surplus food reaches those in need, transforming abundance into an opportunity to fight food insecurity. With every fruit & vegetable saved from waste, we move closer to a world where hunger is no longer a challenge we face.

Empowering Farmers and Food Providers: By streamlining the food donation process and valuing donor autonomy, we will make it easier and more rewarding for farmers and food providers to contribute their surplus. This not only helps in reducing food waste at the source but also supports these essential contributors in our food system, acknowledging their vital role and providing them with more opportunities to engage in the fight against hunger.

Protecting Our Planet: Our commitment to rescuing and redistributing surplus food directly contributes to a reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions and conserves vital resources. Each step we take towards minimizing food waste is a step towards a healthier planet, ensuring that the efforts and resources put into food production are utilized to their fullest potential rather than being lost.

We call for any farm, food provider, community level organization, hunger-fighting charity, agency, or individual that touches the food system to stand alongside us in your aspirational commitment to support farmers, take care of our planet, and fight hunger. 

For those who agree with this vision, we invite you sign the Shared Plate Pledge.

We recognize the diverse and vital roles that various entities play in our food system. As such, our invitation extends beyond traditional stakeholders to encompass anyone who shares a deep passion for bettering the food space - nonprofits, for-profit organizations, agencies, and individuals.