Judy Wilson, Senior Nutrition Advisor, Organization: Office of Policy Support,Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, (703-305-2584)
To reduce food loss and waste in the school meals programs by reducing plate waste and encouraging schools to donate edible foods to eligible organizations.
Baseline: In 2002, USDA reported that 12 percent of the calories served to students in the National School Lunch program were lost because of plate waste (based on 1991-92 data). Lack of recent data and the transition to the new school meal requirements make projection of the potential reductions in waste difficult.
Conduct a study (nationally representative sample) to acquire new information on the amount of plate waste in schools with respect to the type of foods wasted, student and food service characteristics, and related information.
Issue updated guidance materials and provide technical assistance to further encourage “offer versus serve” and family-style service in school meal programs (Offer vs. serve and family-style services in childcare can reduce plate waste by allowing kids to select types/amount of foods).
Investigate use of behavior economic approaches in the school food environment to identify effective ways to reduce plate waste.
Provide training, resources and support to school food service personnel to reduce in-kitchen food loss, improve the quality and acceptability of foods served and donation of wholesome leftover foods where feasible. In-kitchen food loss is due to overproduction, spoilage, expiration, trim waste, spillage, etc., and is controlled by food service staff. Food service personnel also control some post-production food loss, such as that related to portion sizes, quality/acceptability of foods, and management of left over foods, etc. To address these issues, FNS will:
*Activities are ongoing from these dates.