Communications &Marketing Coordinator, Iowa Waste Reduction Center
Lea Hensel is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator of the Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Hensel has been with the Center since 2006 overseeing overall communications as well as developing and implementing marketing campaigns for specific programs and events. As the IWRC began focusing on food waste reduction, she took a special interest in those programs, particularly in source reduction, recovery, and donation. She leads the IWRC’s Iowa Food Waste Stakeholder Group, was part of the committee that hosted the first Midwest Food Recovery Summit in 2017, led the committee for the 2018 event, and is part of the Food Rescue Partnership, a community coalition in the Quad Cities. Hensel received her B.A. from UNI in Marketing with a minor in Communications in 2008 and additionally works for UNI’s Center for Business Growth and Innovation and the Metal Casting Center.
Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI)
The Iowa Waste Reduction Center, located at the University of Northern Iowa, has been providing environmental consultation and education throughout Iowa for over 30 years. After the 2011 Iowa Statewide Waste Characterization Study noted that the number one category for municipal solid waste in Iowa was food waste, the IWRC began an emphasis on food waste reduction. What began as research and analysis to determine where food waste was coming from, barriers to reduction, and existing methods to divert it from the landfill, the IWRC began developing resources and with funding assistance provided by various sources over the years, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Center has worked with businesses, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, communities, and organizations providing hands-on technical assistance and education. Additionally, in 2015, the IWRC began the Iowa Food Waste Stakeholder Coalition, a group dedicated to advancing Iowa’s efforts in reducing food waste generation and utilizing excess food as a valuable resource through education, program implementation, policy, and advocacy. While a majority of the IWRC’s efforts are within Iowa’s borders, a need was recognized for a wider reach in education, which resulted in IWRC hosting the first Midwest Food Recovery Summit in September 2017, followed by a subsequent event in September 2018. More information as well as case studies, regulatory information, and more is available at https://iwrc.uni.edu/food-waste.