Food Waste Challenge –Launched 2 years ago
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is my go to source for what is officially happening here, and their website has a wealth of information. I particularly found the Food Waste Challenge launched in 2013 interesting, as well as the USDA’s Commitments and Deliverables through 2014. The Food Waste Challenge is a joint effort between the USDA and the EPA to call people along the food chain to help reduce, recover, and recycle (compost) more food so that it isn’t wasted, but instead used to its fullest potential. The specifics of the goal include 400 participants by 2015, and 1000 by 2020. Participants aren’t individuals, but schools, religious groups, businesses, or local government branches. Membership however is currently at 4,024, including 113 universities. Wow.
As part of this challenge there are also federal marketing orders that allow donations or alternate uses of fresh produce that don’t meet the federal marketing order requirements. These orders include crops of citrus fruits, avocados, kiwis, cherries, olives, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and dates. Since the launch of this program there have been fewer reports on food waste statistics, so we’ll see how effective it is. For tips and resources on how you can get involved, check out their Frequently Asked Questions page.
Sodexo (the company that serves SPU dining) has also recently pledged to join the Specific plans for SPU from Sodexo include working with students to create a chapter of theFood Recovery Network. The FRN is an organization started by college students to help recover uneaten food from their campus cafeteria. This type of program will be added to the list of clubs next year to help donate food to those in need.
Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables –France makes a comeback in 2014
The European Union declared 2014, the Year Against Food Waste. In response to this, France’s third largest supermarket, Intermarche, began re-branding the ugly fruits and veggies, and stocking them on shelves.
The switch was a big success. Highlighting this and other movements in Europe has made an impact in Canada and the US as well. Not only does this effort reduce food waste, it encourages those ugly fruits and veggies to dream big!
Bon Appetit catches on –Using instead of losing our precious produce
This trend has caught on with a company here in the states, Bon Appetit Management Company has started their program called Imperfectly Delicious Produce. The goal is “to work with our farmers, distributors, and chefs to save this cosmetically challenged produce from going to waste.” This program works specifically in restaurants and cafes where they source their chefs with atypical produce so that they can find creative ways to incorporate what would otherwise be considered waste. By working throughout the supply chain they can impact both pre- and post-consumer waste. They aren’t the only ones, and supporting imperfect produces isn’t the only thing they are doing to prevent and reduce food waste.
Campus Initiatives – What SPU is doing too!
SPU has been working with Sodexo to prevent food waste for at least the past 6 years. In 2009, tray-less dining was implemented to help students not make their eyes bigger than their stomachs, and reduce the amount of uneaten and untouched food going into the compost bin. Sodexo has also made efforts in purchasing bulk items and using durables. Sodexo also uses sustainable cleaning materials and has adopted “meatless Monday” at two of the entrée stations in our dining hall to reduce the carbon emissions created in the meat production industry.
This summer, the loading dock and waste disposal area at Gwinn Commons is getting a face lift and being reconfigured to better support a waste stream that is now mostly recyclable or compostable. This includes adding a compactor for recyclables, a larger baler for cardboard boxes, and a much smaller garbage compactor.
Campus wide composting is also now taking place to reduce food waste that goes into the landfill, and through Cedar Groves our commercial hauler, that food waste can become compost to be used to help grow more fruits and vegetables. With the exception of a few buildings, there are compost bins in kitchens and common areas where food is consumed. To find out more check out my post about our summer kick off.
Gleaning to avoid waste
Lastly, there are some programs that work to take those leftovers in the fields straight to hungry people. It’s called gleaning, when people with permission of the farmers, go and collect food that is un-picked or used. It’s been around since biblical times, and there are programs in different states that organize groups to glean fields and donate the food. The USDA also has a toolkit available if you’d like to start a gleaning group yourself!
I hope these solutions give you some ideas about how to get involved and some hope for all the food that is being wasted. The fight isn’t over, so get ready to save some ugly produce or go gleaning. Comment with additional ideas to help reduce waste!