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Making Cities More Resilient By Eliminating Food Waste

Natasha Dyer

Senior Recycling Program Coordinator, City of Atlanta

Natasha Dyer, who received her M.A. Urban Sustainability from Antioch University, is the Senior Recycling Program Coordinator for the City of Atlanta.

In her role with the Mayor’s Office of Resilience, Dyer focuses on creating municipal programs that increase wasted food diversion from landfill as part of the City’s Climate Action and Food Access plans.  This includes programs that recover edible surplus food to feed food insecure residents and collaborating with external partners to create decentralized composting systems that then benefits local urban agriculture.  In her role with the City, she has also created and administers a citywide Sustainability Ambassador Leadership Program that graduates just under 100 participants per year.

Bard MBA's Emma Chandler speaks with Natasha for this episode of the Impact Report. An excerpt of the conversation can be seen below.

Emma Chandler: Could you give us a bit of an overview of the Mayor's Office of Resilience and the work that's happening there?

Natasha Dyer: Sure, so I can take you back to the inception of the office, really. And it was actually the Mayor's Office of Sustainability that was founded in 2008 under the city's last administration to focus on the Better Buildings Challenge. And that was an initiative to make commercial buildings 20% more energy- and water-efficient by 2020.

And then by 2012, our current leader then actually expanded and included recycling and electric vehicles and urban Ag. And so then by 2017, we applied to be part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Network. And, after reviewing applications from a thousand perspective cities, Atlanta became the very last—the one-hundredth city—of that network. 

And so we're still a team that just focuses on energy and water conservation, recycling, and then we have an urban Ag and composting arm, as well, and we also have people working on electric vehicles in our office. And now in this current administration, under Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, we've actually been housed in her signature One Atlanta Office that focuses on equity matters, too, so a lot of our work is being funneled through an equity lens which is very important when we start to look at being a more resilient city anyway.