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Multi-agency effort promotes food waste reduction

MachineHeadz/iStock/Getty Images food waste - fresh food in a garbage can
President launches Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative and enlists USDA, FDA and EPA to join forces to assist in public, private partnership.

In the U.S., more than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through loss or waste. Food is the single largest type of waste in our daily trash. In recent years, great strides have been made to highlight and mitigate food loss and waste, but the work has just begun.

In an official presidential message to kick off the month of April, President Trump launched the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative—a collaborative effort by the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and Food and Drug Administration.  This Initiative aligns efforts across the federal government to educate consumers, engage key stakeholders, and develop and evaluate solutions to reduce food loss and waste.

“Help from private entities and individuals is the key ingredient to successfully reducing food loss and waste.  Public-private partnerships, like the United States Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, have already brought together businesses and organizations to help improve the efficiency and management of food systems and to pursue more effective measurement and networks that can reduce food loss and waste.  The work of these partnerships is helping drive our successes in ensuring that food that is grown becomes food that is eaten,” Trump said in his statement.

“USDA alone cannot end food waste, it will require partners from across the supply chain working together on innovative solutions and consumer education. We need to feed our hungry world and by reducing food waste, we can more wisely use the resources we have. I am pleased President Trump identified this issue as one of importance, and I look forward to USDA’s continued work with our agency partners at EPA and FDA to change behavior in the long term on food waste,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“Reducing food waste and redirecting excess food to people, animals, or energy production provide immediate benefits to public health and the environment. I am proud to join President Trump and my federal partners in recognizing April as Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are working closely with our federal partners and stakeholders across the nation to reduce the amount of food going to landfills and maximize the value of our food resources.”

“With 1 in 6 people getting a foodborne illness every year in the U.S. and up to 40% of food left uneaten, it’s understandable why food safety and food waste are major societal concerns,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas. “The FDA is working to strengthen its collaboration and coordination with the EPA and USDA to strategically align our federal efforts between the two issues to better educate Americans on how to reduce food waste and how it can be done safely.”

As part of the month’s observances, on April 9, EPA will host a livestreamed event with USDA and FDA. Additional joint agency actions will be announced at the event regarding the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative. At the event, a panel of food waste stakeholders will share how state and local communities can join the federal government in reducing food waste and loss.

Reps. Dan Newhouse (R., Wash.) and Chellie Pingree (D., Maine), the co-chairs of Bipartisan Congressional Food Recovery Caucus, welcomed Trump’s announcement that his administration will focus on food waste reduction throughout April.

“As a farmer myself, I know how hard our farmers work to make sure Americans have safe, healthy, and, affordable food to feed their families, but that does not mean our society should be wasteful,” said Newhouse. “The President is giving this matter the attention it deserves by promoting food recovery, and I look forward to working with Congresswoman Pingree to educate the public and my colleagues on how we can address waste from farms to table.”

“It’s a travesty that 40% of the food we produce ends up in a landfill where it produces methane. Addressing food waste is a win-win, as it can both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also get perfectly good food in the hands of those who need it most,” said Pingree, a longtime organic farmer and environmental advocate. “I’m encouraged that President Trump has acknowledged the environmental threat that food waste poses. As Representative Newhouse and I work across the aisle to increase awareness about this issue on Capitol Hill and identify legislative opportunities, it’s helpful to see the Administration also plans to reduce food waste across federal agencies.”

The bipartisan Congressional Food Recovery Caucus was founded in 2018 by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and former Congressman David Young (R-Iowa) in order to promote food waste reduction across the food supply chain; provide educational opportunities to congressional members and staff; support efforts to reduce food waste at federal agencies; and collaborate with diverse stakeholders to highlight food waste success stories. Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-Washington) became the Republican co-chair in 2019.

TAGS: Policy
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