CINCINNATI-- The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation ("Foundation") today announced its second Innovation Fund ("Fund") open call, inviting eligible innovators with ideas and solutions to prevent food waste to submit an application by April 1 for business support and funding totaling $2.5 million in collective grants.
"The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation is committed to helping build a more efficient and resilient food system and charitable food system in the U.S. and beyond," said Denise Osterhues, president of The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation. "In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts, we are more determined than ever to direct as much food as possible to its highest purpose: feeding people. We can no longer afford to waste surplus food at any level in our food system. For that reason, we are pleased to offer the Innovation Fund's second open call for proposals that directly support promising new ways to manufacture, process or distribute upcycled consumer food products."
Upcycled food is the next frontier in recovering and repurposing food that may otherwise go to landfills, encouraging the reintroduction and reuse of food items into the supply chain. Applicants are invited to submit proposals that promote a business model that requires sourcing surplus food or food byproducts and manufacturing them into new consumer-facing products.
After this open call, the Foundation – in collaboration with Village Capital, the largest supporter of impact-driven, seed-stage startups in the world, and the Fund's advisory committee – will review the applications and select 10 startups. Each startup selected for the Fund's second cohort will receive $100,000 in upfront seed grant funding, totaling an initial $1 million investment. Then the grantees will participate in a virtual workshop focused on investment readiness, technical skill development and networking with a community of investors and mentors in and around the food system. The second cohort will have exclusive access to the Foundation and Village Capital's leaders and partners, as well as the option to apply for follow-on funding.
Cohort members will each be eligible for an additional $100,000 grant from the Fund based on achievement of identified program milestones. At the end of the six-month milestone development period, two startups will be selected by their cohort peers for an opportunity to receive an additional $250,000 in funding.
"The Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation works with organizations, innovators and changemakers across the nation to address a fundamental absurdity in our food system: 35% of food produced in the U.S. is thrown away, yet 50 million Americans struggle with hunger every day, including an estimated 17 million children," said Sunny Reelhorn Parr, executive director of The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation. "We welcomed our first Innovation Fund cohort in 2019, by awarding a total of $1 million to accelerate programs and solutions developed by startups Food Forest, Imperfect Foods, mobius, Replate, Ripe Revival, Seal the Seasons and Winnow. Now, we're eager to work with Village Capital to accelerate partnerships with creative thinkers and problem solvers who share our vision of a world where food waste is no longer a reality."
"The mission of the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation is more important than ever today," said Kelly Bryan, manager of sustainability practice at Village Capital. "Village Capital is excited to work with the Foundation to identify additional innovators from around the country who are helping reinvent the food system and recover and redistribute surplus food in our communities."
To learn more about the Foundation's open call and apply, please visit ZeroHungerZeroWasteFoundation.org.
About The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation
The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity founded in 2018. The Foundation was formed to support initiatives that create communities free of hunger and waste.
At The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), we are dedicated to our Purpose: To Feed the Human Spirit®. We are nearly half a million associates who serve over 11 million customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,761 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, serving America through food inspiration and uplift, and creating #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025. To learn more about us, visit our newsroom and investor relations site.
About Village Capital:
Village Capital helps entrepreneurs bring big ideas from vision to scale. Our mission is to reinvent the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future. Our vision is a future where business creates equity and long-term prosperity. Since 2009, we have supported more than 1,000 early-stage entrepreneurs through our investment readiness programs. Our affiliated fund, VilCap Investments, has invested in more than 110 program graduates.