NEW YORK—NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) announced the expansion of the Food Matters Project in the MidAtlantic region with the goal of furthering larger-scale change related to food waste throughout the region. Building on two years of partnership on the project, Baltimore will become the hub city for the regional initiative and will be joined by Jersey City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC.
In the Food Matters Regional Initiative, NRDC and the participating cities will collaborate to implement policies and programs to reduce municipal food waste while leveraging regional synergies. Cities often confront similar barriers when tackling food waste, including insufficient data and resources. The initiative will include city representatives who will network with one another, with NRDC, and with local partner organizations to set goals, develop programs to achieve those goals, and identify regional strategies that help maximize their resources. NRDC will work with each city to estimate their baseline food waste generation and food rescue potential and to provide technical assistance on developing food waste strategies that help bolster their broader food systems, sustainability, and climate goals.
Following are quotes from mayors of participating cities and NRDC staff:
“We are proud of the work Baltimore is leading, championed by our amazing multi-agency team led by the Baltimore Office of Sustainability and our community partners to dramatically reduce our food waste in the city,” said Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young. “We recognize that food should be a catalyst for economic opportunity, and an asset of our community, not a waste product.”
“A key element of our commitment to strengthen every neighborhood in Philadelphia is to ensure all Philadelphians can access and afford healthy food,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “It is imperative that we help our local businesses and residents reduce food waste.”
“My mission is to make the District a healthier, greener, more livable city for all residents, both during this public health emergency and for our future. We’ve made great strides towards our Sustainable DC goals, and are pleased to share lessons from our successes in food recovery, community composting, and waste diversion with other cities in the region,” said Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.
“Jersey City has become a national leader in implementing innovative efforts for a greener future,” Jersey City Mayor Steven M. Fulop said. “During this year of Climate action, we’re committed to expanding our successful composting program as well as other sustainable initiatives underway to combat unnecessary waste and pollution. We’re glad to be partnering with NRDC and other cities on this effort together.”
“Preventing food from becoming waste is a theme throughout our climate and resiliency goals,” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. “Tackling food insecurity, food resiliency, and food waste will require collaboration from city staff, nonprofits, and the local community. We look forward to this partnership.”
“NRDC’s Food Matters project has pioneered tools and partnerships with cities to address food waste. We are proud to be partnering with this outstanding group of cities to address the complex and intertwined environmental and social challenges we face,” said NRDC Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program Director Shelley Poticha. “Healthy, good food is a key element of sustainability for every city and household; it is imperative that food doesn’t go to waste.”
Simultaneously, NRDC’s Food Matters project is also expanding its regional approach to five cities in the Southeast. Nashville will be the hub of the Southeast regional initiative, and the other participating cities are Asheville, Atlanta, Memphis, and Orlando.
In 2012, NRDC helped spark a national dialogue about the alarming amount of food that goes to waste in our country when we released “Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill” (updated in 2017). Through this foundational piece of research, NRDC identified municipalities as a key intervention point for curbing food waste.
NRDC’s portfolio of work with cities includes original research estimating quantities and types of food wasted and opportunities to expand food rescue in U.S. cities; a toolkit of policies and programs for cities to tackle food waste; in-depth food waste initiatives with Baltimore, Denver, and Nashville; and an array of tools to help cities prevent food from going to waste, rescue surplus food, and recycle food scraps, including implementing Mayoral restaurant challenges, training health inspectors to advocate for food waste strategies, and deploying Save the Food consumer education assets. Some of the lessons learned during this work included the importance of a systems approach, including building cross-agency teams and engaging local partners.
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NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.