Since USDA launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge in 2013, leaders and organizations across the food chain have committed to reducing, recovering, and recycling food loss and waste. Last week, I joined our newest partners in this effort at the Jessup Terminal Market to launch their own friendly competition, the Terminal Market U.S. Food Waste Challenge.
The National Association of Produce Market Managers (NAPMM) organized the competition and is leading the charge to reduce food waste at produce terminal markets, which are endpoints within the wholesale supply chain where fruits and vegetables are bought and sold for retail use. Because they act as hubs for large quantities of perishable foods, these markets provide a big opportunity to prevent food waste and can play a key role in reaching the first U. S. national food waste reduction goal: a 50 percent reduction in food waste by year 2030.
Produce markets can help reduce waste by rerouting food that would otherwise be wasted to food banks or local pantries that feed families in need. We know that many terminal markets are already working with individual produce wholesalers to donate excess fruits and vegetables directly to various charities and foodbanks.
At the Jessup Terminal Market, I met Jessica Weiss of Growing SOUL, an organization that is working with produce vendors at the market to gather food that might otherwise be wasted and turn it into value-added products. Community members young and old are engaged in the process of cooking and preserving the products, which teaches valuable skills and encourages healthy eating habits.
With the Terminal Market Competition, which runs from March 29, 2016 to June 30, 2016, we have the opportunity to highlight the efforts that NAPMM markets are making in this area and encourage the expansion of industry efforts. The wholesale produce market that registers the most resident firms as participants in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge will be honored by the USDA.
By joining the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, produce markets are making a commitment to reduce food waste, improve food security, and conserve our nation’s natural resources. Sign up now – it takes less than 5 minutes.