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July 29, 2022

108 billion pounds of food are wasted every year in the United States, yet 38 million Americans don’t have enough to eat every day. The question is– how do we get surplus food to the people who need it most?

In her Talk, Patty O’Connor recounts how she helps to rescue over 2 million pounds of food every month, including from the very same grocery stores that her father rescued food from when she was a child. Food rescue is one of the greatest solutions to help end hunger, and we all have the ability to be a connector, a rescuer, an agent of change. A San Diego native, Patty brings 25 years of experience to her role as Chief Supply Chain Officer at Feeding San Diego. Since joining the organization in April 2021, Patty has applied her experience in the consumer goods sector to the non-profit world, improving forecasting, planning and inventory turns for San Diego County’s largest hunger-relief and food rescue organization and only Feeding America affiliate in the region, which sees millions of pounds of food go through its distribution center every month. She has also focused on sourcing new food vendors to provide better variety to the people the non-profit serves, as well as expanding the organization’s food rescue program, with the eventual goal of rescuing food from every store, wholesaler, and distributor in San Diego County.

Patty has her Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Santa Clara University with a minor in Spanish. After completing her undergraduate studies, she immediately went through the Management Training Program at National Semiconductor. Following that, she earned her MBA in International Business from Thunderbird Graduate School. Early on in her career, she worked at Levi Strauss & Co. in San Francisco, first on the Offshore Sourcing Planning & Analysis Team and later in product management. In that role, she traveled to many factories in Latin America, utilizing her Spanish to determine optimal production quantities and flow. Subsequent roles at other international companies, including the world’s largest sourcing company, Li & Fung, had Patty developing and sourcing all types of products in the consumer goods space from concept to delivery. During this time, she traveled the world to meet with factories in 25 countries, always fascinated to learn new cultures and ways of working.

At this point in her career, Patty is thrilled to bring her decades of experience to a mission-driven, non-profit organization. Her current role has found her in a career where her passion is equal to her skillset. She has long been invested in giving back to her community, thanks to her father, Joe O’Connor. Joe started rescuing food almost 20 years ago, arranging a pickup every Tuesday and Saturday morning at his local grocery store and bringing the rescued food to a non-profit where it was given to people facing hunger. Through this example, Patty learned early on that the most important job in life is to give back to those in need. She currently leads a team that helps rescue 2.5 million pounds of food every month, including from the same grocery store her father frequented all those years ago. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at ted.com/tedx

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