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Office of the Chief Economist
United States Department of Agriculture


K-12 Schools Reducing, Recovering, and Recycling Food Waste

Learn how schools can maximize food resources through proven best practices in procurement, menu planning, marketing, and food safety as well as utilization of any excess food items through donation and/or recycling. This webinar is designed to help schools take action to increase consumption of the foods students choose, as well as decrease food waste in both the kitchen and dining room.

Useful links:

Donating Unsold Food A Primer on Liability, Food Safety, and the Good Samaritan Act
November 12, 2014

14.3% of American households found it difficult to put food on the table at some time in 2013, yet 31% of food at the consumer and retail level goes uneaten (USDA ERS).  Of the estimated 133 billion pounds of food that goes uneaten every year, much of it is perfectly safe and nutritious and could have been donated to hunger relief organizations to feed hungry people.  Sadly, much of this perfectly good food ends up in landfills.
How can we change this situation? Many managers at farms, food processors, supermarkets, dining facilities, and restaurants say they are worried about donating wholesome unsold food because of fear of liability.  Some say they don’t have the proper food safety processes in place to handle food recovery and donation programs.
The presentations from this webinar discuss liability concerns and clear up misconceptions that may keep companies from donating food.  The webinar covers food safety issues and tips and the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, the federal statute that gives liability protection to those who donate food. 


Useful links:

  • Q&A from the webinar
  • is innovative nationwide non-profit that links food donors (especially home and community growers with excess fresh food) to more than 7,000 food pantries across all 50 states.  Instead of collecting and redistributing food, they use technology to enable the food donor to work directly with a nearby food pantry or soup kitchen on a sustainable basis.  They enable to share the bounty with their neighbors in need. 
  • The Food Bus, is an organization that helps K-12 schools setup food recovery programs. 

Supermarkets, Restaurants, & Food Service Companies Reducing Food Waste
September 24, 2014

31% of food that is available at supermarkets, restaurants, dining halls, and in households goes uneaten. Across the country, supermarkets, restaurants, and food service companies are adopting innovative new approaches to reduce the amount of food that goes unsold, recover more wholesome unsold food to donate to people who need it, and recycle food discards for energy generation or composting. Stores are even coming up with new incentives to convince consumers to buy "ugly" produce.

The second webinar in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge Webinar series features food industry and non-profit leaders talking about how they are dealing with food waste.  The presentations include information on the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, liability protection for food donation, the food recovery hierarchy, and innovative ways to keep retailer food waste out of landfills.  

Presentations & Videos

Useful Links
Also, here are four links to resources that were mentioned in the webinar that you might find useful:

Cities and Counties Leading Efforts to Reduce Food Waste
July 16, 2014

Cities and counties across the country are adopting policies that curb food waste from going into landfills.  Many are also using the food waste to produce natural fertilizer and bioenergy.  Others have programs set up to make sure nutritious uneaten food goes to food banks and pantries.  

This first webinar in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge Webinar series featured city and county leaders and a university manager who are leading efforts to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste.  As former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, food waste is the “final recycling frontier” for many cities.  

Whether you’re a mayor, county official, sustainability manager, or concerned citizen, enjoy the great presentations from the webinar presenters.