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Time To Do Something About Food Waste

Posted by Dr. Elise Golan, Director for Sustainable Development, Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Conservation Food and Nutrition
Feb 21, 2017

On June 4th, 2013, in advance of World Environment Day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.  Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe announced their agencies’ commitments to reduce, recover and recycle food waste – and called on others to join in the effort.  At the event were representatives from private-sector partners and supporters, including Rio Farms, Unilever, General Mills, the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, Feeding America, and Rock and Wrap It Up!.

“Food waste in the United States is estimated at roughly between 30 to 40 percent of the food supply,” said Secretary Vilsack. “We are calling on private and public businesses and institutions across the food chain to join the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.  Our goal is have 400 participants by 2015 and 1,000 by 2020. This level of participation would signal the development of a fundamental shift in how we think about and manage food and food waste in the United States.”

As part of its contribution to the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, USDA is initiating a wide range of activities including activities to reduce waste in the school meals program, educate consumers about food waste and food storage, and develop new technologies to reduce food waste.  USDA will also work with industry to increase donations from imported produce that does not meet standards, streamline procedures for donating wholesome misbranded meat and poultry products, update U.S. food loss estimates at the retail level, and pilot-test a meat-composting program to reduce the amount of meat being sent to landfills from food safety inspection labs.

Through its Food Recovery Challenge, EPA will provide U.S. Food Waste Challenge participants with the opportunity to access data management software and technical assistance (http://www.epa.gov/smm/foodrecovery/) to help them quantify and improve their sustainable food management practices.