U.S. Cities Take Action to Reduce Wasted Food

Food Waste Action Week aims to raise awareness about the impact that food waste has on our wallets, communities, and climate.

Credit: Volunteers holding up bunches of carrots as a family waits for their CSA boxes at a community center in Washington. Photo: Getty Images

Wasted food has enormous environmental impacts and contributes to climate change. Food Waste Action Week, which takes place March 7-13, 2022, aims to raise awareness about the impact that food waste has on our wallets, communities, and climate. Because food is central to our lives, we all can make an impact on reducing food waste and cities across the U.S. are leading the way to prevent food from going to waste, redirect surplus food, and recycle food scraps.

At the municipal level, cities in the Food Matters Regional Initiative are taking action in the following areas:

  • Enacting Policy: The state of Michigan is working on a Healthy Climate Plan and the three organizations that represent Detroit in our Food Matters Initiative (Make Food Not Waste FoodPLUS Detroit, and Food Rescue US Detroit) submitted strategy recommendations on food waste reduction for the plan. Their participation in developing the Plan reflects the work these organizations have done to raise awareness on the connections between food waste and climate. To learn more about including food waste in climate action plans, check out this toolkit from Environmental Law Institute. We hope other city policy efforts, like compost procurement, will also increase in the coming years. 
Credit: Photo: Wasted Food Stops With Us
  • Educating Consumers: In Ohio, Hamilton County R3Source’s education campaign Wasted Food Stops With Us is engaging residents to stop food waste by providing tips, tools, and an informative blog. On their public service announcements this past year they got over 12,000 actions (clicks on ads). They are now planning the next phase of the campaign and how to make it even more inclusive and effective. This is one example of a fantastic local campaign and you can read about more city educational efforts in this blog
  • Engaging Businesses: In December 2021, the District of Columbia launched their Food Waste Innovation Grants, which will provide 50 District businesses with free food waste assessments and $1,000 of Compost Credit towards food scrap collection from a local composter. An additional $300,000 worth of grants will finance food waste interventions at small businesses. These grants represent a holistic strategy to support businesses in reducing waste. Other cities like Philadelphia and Detroit are engaging businesses through food waste reduction challenges.
  • Engaging Health Inspectors: The City of Atlanta is working with Fulton County Health Inspectors to provide new trainings and the information and tools for health inspectors to engage with all the restaurants in their purview to increase food donation and food scrap recycling. Other cities like Cincinnati and Nashville have engaged their health departments in similar ways. 
Credit: Urban Farming in Baltimore Photo: Preston Keres/USDA/FPAC
  • Community Composting: At the end of 2021, the City of Asheville and Buncombe County launched two new food scrap drop-off locations. This pilot project is a first for the city and county, who are looking to expand food scrap collection and processing. Over the coming months they will evaluate the pilot and assess the feasibility for expansion. Asheville joins other cities like Baltimore and Jersey City with municipal food scrap drop-off locations. 

This is just a small sample of all the work going on at the municipal level; we will continue to share more Food Matters highlights through blogs and our newsletter. At the federal level we continue to advocate for policies that will reduce food waste and are excited to see funding in the 2021 Infrastructure Act to support municipal food waste recycling infrastructure and education.

Finally, almost 40% of food waste comes from our homes! To learn more about how to reduce wasted food and your carbon footprint at home, check out tips at SaveTheFood.com and our other blogs.

The Food Waste Action Week campaign is led by Love Food Hate Waste, a consumer education campaign in the U.K. Check out their social media to get more involved in the week and use the hashtag #FoodWasteActionWeek.

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