F&F Grants 2023 | Alison Mountford
Aug 28, 2023 4:20:25 PM • Viva Wittman
Meet Alison Mountford, an F&F Entrepreneurship Grant recipient, and the founder of Ends + Stems, a resource to assist companies and individuals in reducing food waste. Offering free webinars, family meal-prep courses, and corporate packages—Alison aims to keep perfectly good food out of the landfill, bring joy to people’s mealtimes, and save everyone the money they might otherwise be spending on excess groceries.
A graduate of NYU and Le Cordon Bleu, Alison has a rich background in the culinary arts. Back in the day, from 2005 to 2015, Alison had a meal-delivery service a lot like Feast & Fettle, only in San Francisco. She’s cooked for some big names, like Vice President Kamala Harris and Senator Cory Booker—and her clients have included Google, Twitter, Kaiser…this jaw-dropping list actually goes on for a while. She’s even hosted a cooking demo with Dominique Crenn, the French chef and owner of the Michelin-star restaurant Atelier Crenn.
Upon discovering the huge environmental impact of food waste, Alison felt called to spread the information. “For a while, it wasn’t a business,” she wrote in her grant application, “I just made videos on Instagram. But I loved helping people meal-plan and learn about using up scraps.” She was still taking catering gigs until the 2020 lockdown got her looking for ways to go digital with her work.
Alison has two kids, and, as we know, the pandemic has seen millions of women (especially mothers) leave the workforce. Add in the zero demand for event catering, and she knew she needed to figure out another path. “Covid caused my stability to be completely shaken,” Alison shared. “Weathering the storm has taught me to persevere because sometimes you’re stronger on the other side—but also when to pivot or quit.” Eventually she found the courage to make the move toward investing in her passion, and it’s paid off. Now, based in Rhode Island, Alison has turned that passion into a livelihood; and she’s helping a lot of people from all over with her virtual resources.
It was neat to read over her story not only because she’s a total boss, but also because we at F&F can really relate to her values around healthy, holistic eating and responsible food management. These are the same values that have driven us to create a zero-waste production and delivery system and an ethical food ethos to source our ingredients by. And as knowledgeable as Alison is on the topic of food waste, we love that the way she presents the information makes enacting change feel like an accessible thing to do.
In her application, she outlined how cutting back on food waste is “almost always listed as one of the top three things that individuals at home can do…to help reduce [climate change].” And if that feels like a lot of pressure, she also reminds us: “Done is better than perfect. If we’re all striving for perfection, nobody’s ever going to get there.”
Last year, Alison hosted sixteen webinars and taught almost 300 students. This year, her goal was to level up to twenty webinars and 500 students—a goal we’re confident she’ll reach. As for what’s up next for Ends + Stems? Alison is developing an online course that individuals can access at any point. She’s already completed the outline and some of the graphics, and her intention in applying for the Entrepreneurial Grant was to use the winnings to film the lessons, assemble supplementary materials, and create marketing content.
That all sounded good to us, so we surprised her with a giant five thousand-dollar check.