Komal Ahmad: She’s Helping Eliminate Hunger

April 10 - On The Dot
Food
 

FIRST THOUGHT: Serving Up Food With a Side of Dignity

In 1996, the World Food Summit declared access to adequate food is a fundamental right of every human being. Its action plan identified four areas in which governments are responsible for ensuring this human right: respect, protection, facilitation and provision. I’m particularly struck by the organization’s inclusion of the word “respect,” and am glad this was considered. The first step to helping someone is acknowledging he or she has value, just like every human being. We all have bellies that need filling, right? Today, pepper a little more respect into your conversations and actions, and remember that regardless of our stations in life, we all deserve a little dignity.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 1996

While changing attitudes about those in need in our communities is crucial to upholding human rights, legal protection is just as critical. In 1996, the same year the World Food Summit made its declaration, President Bill Clinton also took strides to positively impact the issue of hunger in America, signing into law the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Essentially, the legislation protects organizations that donate food from liability. The law makes it far easier and less legally concerning for businesses to donate edibles to programs that help feed the nearly 30 million Americans facing real hunger issues instead of sending those food items to landfills.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Komal Ahmad, Founder and CEO of Copia

Today’s Woman to Watch, Komal Ahmad, is on a mission to end food waste, and she’s employing her unique business, Copia, to help other companies save money, reduce waste and feed communities in need.

Copia makes it easy for organizations like hospitals, caterers, restaurants and universities to request pickups of their surplus food through the Copia app or website. Then Copia’s certified food handlers, aka “food heroes,” recover that surplus food and deliver it to local nonprofits, which then distribute the food to the hungry in their communities. With Copia, donating businesses can track their surplus trends, make better purchasing decisions and access tax-deduction info—and even receive photos and testimonials from the thankful folks they’ve helped feed.

Komal’s entrepreneurial journey began while she was still a college student at the University of California, Berkeley. She was walking down the street one day and encountered a homeless man begging for food. But unlike many who ignore such a plea, Komal invited him to lunch. She learned he was a military veteran waiting for his VA benefits, a circumstance that left him broke, homeless and desperately hungry. And all this happened directly across the street from her university’s dining hall, which was disposing of thousands of pounds of edible food. While the experience left Komal stricken with sorrow, it also emboldened her to take action and create Copia.

But Komal’s biz isn’t just about benevolence; it’s also about efficiency. Copia has recovered and donated nearly 1 million pounds of food, amounting to more than $9 million, for nonprofits. That’s millions of mouths fed. It also means all that food didn’t end up in landfills, which results in a significant environmental impact.

While Komal is working to solve what she calls “the world’s dumbest problem,” hunger, she also puts it upon herself to view the world a little differently, noting, “The reasonable woman adapts herself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to herself. All progress, therefore, depends on the unreasonable woman.”

And to that, we say thank goodness for “unreasonable” women like Komal!

QUITE THE QUOTE

With Komal Ahmad’s important mission in mind, today’s motivating quote comes from Anne Frank:

“Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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