Policy. Advocacy. Change.

2019 Food Waste Solution Summit Speaker Bios

Thank you for a great event!
Huge thank you to all our amazing speakers!

The Food Waste Solution Summit welcomed Jonathan Bloom as our 2019 Keynote Speaker!

Jonathan Bloom is a journalist, consultant and thought leader on the topic of food waste. Jonathan wrote the book American Wasteland and created the web site Wasted Food. He has spoken on food waste from New York to New Zealand and has consulted with the United Nations FAO, Harvard Law School, NRDC, General Mills, and Minneapolis Public Schools. Most recently, he helped create Food Matters, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s free educational resource. In 2017, he was an Expert-in-Residence at Concordia College. A Boston native, Jonathan now lives Durham, NC, with his wife, two sons and many, many containers for leftovers.

Morning Address – Update from the EPA on Food Waste Reduction – Barbara Alfano

Barbara Alfano is the Chief of the PCB & Sustainability Section for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 office. She joined the EPA in 1988, after working as a national wetland specialist for six years in Florida. Most of her time at EPA has been spent as a project manager responsible for cleaning up Superfund and Brownfields sites in the southeast. She recently served as the Regional Brownfields Coordinator for six years. She has also served as Acting RCRA Corrective Action and Permits Section Chief, Office of Superfund Public Affairs and Outreach Director, Superfund Section Chief, and Brownfields Section Chief. Her background includes being raised outside Philadelphia and graduating from the University of South Florida in Tampa. Barbara feels privileged to collaborate with diverse communities in the southeast.

Joe Evans Owner, Olivette Farms Morning Panel Speaker

I’ve been farming in WNC for 10 years now and currently manage Olivette Farm, where we grow diversified produce for sale to farmers markets, restaurants and our CSA. While we work to produce a wide variety of quality organic vegetables, we also focus on crop selection and working closely with chefs and community members to eliminate crop waste as a result of over production. 

Cory Jackson YMCA Healthy Living Mobile Market Morning Panel Speaker Cory serves within the YMCA of Western North Carolina (WNC) as their Director of Nutrition Services where he oversees his associations federal meal efforts, mobile produce distributions, and overall program development. Since starting anti-hunger work with the Y his nutrition team has begun serving meals at 100% of their Y’s afterschool sites and has increased mobile produce distribution totals by 244% from their now 4 mobile units. Due to the magnitude of the anti-hunger and nutrition work being done in WNC, Cory was recognized by his alma mater, Grand Valley State University last as their Young Alumni Award recipient with a degree honoris causa. 

Jim Davis Vice President of Business Development, Atlas Organics Morning Panel Speaker

Jim has been at Atlas Organics developing business around diverting food waste since April 2016. He has seen the relevance and awareness grow thanks to efforts such as the Food Waste Solutions Summit, SCDHEC’s Don’t Waste Food SC campaign, engaged homeowners using residential services, corporate waste and recycling policies and energized students from elementary school to college campuses. To have the opportunity to promote the regenerative approach of composting food waste, see it end up as a valuable soil amendment to complete a cycle of use and re-use to improve soil health is one of the most satisfying experiences of his career. 

Meg Chamberlain Owner, Chief Fermenter – Fermenti Session 1, Part 2 Speaker

Meg Chamberlain is the Owner and Cheif Fermenter of Fermenti. Fermenti reduces food waste in our own streamlined fermentation process. Where we then compost the cellulose matter on our farm, as well as ferment some of the scraps into chicken feed. From time to time we collaborate with Beacon of Hope to ferment unwanted produce and turn into re-donatable items. Education and continued research on these processes are key to our fermenting future.” 

Elena Dalton Program Coordinator, Full Circle – Boone, NC Session 2 Part 1 Presenter

Elena joined F.A.R.M. Cafe in January 2018 and currently serves as the program coordinator for F.A.R.M. Full Circle. Elena recently completed a post-baccalaureate certificate in Nonprofit Management through University of North Carolina Greensboro Graduate School. In 2011, she graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Development. In the last decade, she has worked on multiple local farms and served as the 2018 garden coordinator for the Hospitality House. She is passionate about working with the community to build a more sustainable local food system here in the High Country. When she is not in the kitchen or garden, she and her husband enjoy exploring the outdoors and trying to keep up with their very active toddler. 

Lauren Bishop Chief Sustainability Officer, Western Carolina University Session 2 panel participant

Lauren Bishop has served as the Chief Sustainability Officer at Western Carolina University since 2014. Prior to this she was the Energy Manager and has been working at WCU for 14 years. She received her M.A. in Industrial Technology, Building Science, and B.S. in Business Administration, Real Estate & Urban Analysis from Appalachian State University. Her focus includes taking a holistic approach to integrating sustainability and waste reduction systematically across the campus community. It is a dynamic goal that includes utilizing campus as a living learning laboratory for student engagement, research, and high impact learning. 

Gary Bilbro Regional Manager / Zero Waste Programs Session 3 Part 1 presenter

Gary Bilbro is a recycling professional with experience working with organics diversion, composting, waste-to-energy, curbside recycling, construction & demolition recycling and consulting with public, private and non-profit associations within the industry. Gary currently works for EcoSafe Zero Waste, which provides programs for waste generators to divert organics from their waste stream with a goal of producing contaminate free material for composters and making zero waste to landfill possible. Gary has worked to enhance the recycling of fats, oils and grease, industrial sludges and waste water. The diversion of waste to landfill is his passion. He is working on his first book on the subject entitled “How Recycling Changed the World”. Gary lives in North Carolina with his wife and two dogs, “the kids”. He enjoys reading, writing, walking and Golf. His ultimate goal: “To bring life back to our soils while ending the need for landfills”. 

Jackie Hamstead UNC Asheville Campus Operations Session 4 Part 2 Presenter

Jackie Hamstead started working at UNC Asheville in May 2015. Her role as Environmental Specialist contains many facets: 1 part waste reduction, 1 part stormwater management, and 1 part pollinator advocacy. This is a perfect fit, considering her B.A. in Sustainable Development and M.S. in Biology from Appalachian State University. Off campus, you can find Jackie playing ping-pong, playing badminton, or serving on the Food Waste Solutions steering committee. 

Meghan Ibach UNC Asheville Dining Services Session 5 Part 1 presenter 

Meghan Ibach has been working in food systems since 2011, and working in food service even longer. She’s passionate about problem solving and seeks to improve the human impact on this beautiful planet. She’s proudly been the sustainability coordinator with UNCA Dining Services for over two years, and volunteers with Food Waste Solutions WNC. 

Liz Button Owner, Katie Button Restaurants Session 5 Part Panel Participant

Liz Button is a passionate advocate for culinary authenticity and sustainability. Nowhere is this more evident than in her role as Chief Impact Officer at Katie Button Restaurants, Chair of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association and Haywood Street Downtown Welcome Table Restaurant Development. Liz’s culinary career began in the fast food industry and quickly moved to the world of catering. For ten years she ran the highly-successful New Jersey-based Elizabeth Button Catering before attending the International Culinary Institute (formerly FCI) where she earned degrees in Professional Culinary, Restaurant Management and Wine Spirit Education Trust, graduating with honors. Once again she was honored by the International Culinary Institute, this time in 2014 with the alumni award for “Outstanding Restaurant Management.” In 2009, Button and her family moved to Asheville, North Carolina, to pursue a long-held dream of restaurant ownership. In 2011, Liz, Katie, Félix and Ted opened Cúrate, a traditional Spanish tapas bar, and most recently, in 2018 Button & Co. Bagels. 

Kimber Jones Biltmore Estate, Session 5 panel participant

Kimber serves as the environmental programs coordinator for the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. This year her work is focused on reducing our waste stream through increased recycling, composting, and reduced consumption. 

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