U.S. restaurants are terrible at getting wasted food to the hungry. Can we change that?

Read the full post at Grist.

Our country throws away 40 percent of its food, routing $165 billion of food to landfills each year. An individual American throws away an average of 20 pounds of food a month, according to a 2012 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

At the same time, in 2013, 49.1 million people lived in food-insecure households, according to USDA figures. At some point during 2014, one out of four Americans relied on some sort of federal government food assistance program. The number of Americans turning to these programs has increased since the 2008 financial crisis, yet, since the start of the recession, funds for these programs have repeatedly been cut, and congressional Republicans are pushing for further cuts this year.

All of that wasted food, meanwhile, creates a host of environmental problems, growing the size of landfills and contributing to climate change. Organic matter decomposing in dumps is the third largest source of methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, in the U.S.

Not all of the food we send to landfills is fit to be eaten — but a lot of it is. Grocery stores overstock to make their shelves look bountifully full. Industrial kitchens, like those found in universities and hospitals, cook too much to make sure they will have enough food for an unexpectedly large influx of diners. Much of this food would still make a fine dinner up until the moment it gets bagged and tossed in the dumpster.

So why are we so bad at getting this food to people who want to eat it?

Webinar: Putting Food Waste on the Scoreboard: What You Need to Know

September 29, 2015, 1:00 pm CDT
Register at http://info.leanpath.com/webinars/092015-putting-food-waste-on-the-scoreboard

You measure your foodservice operation’s health by looking at a range of key metrics: quality, safety, sanitation and profit. But what about food waste? Is that on your daily “scoreboard” as a measure of success? For most, it’s missing.

Ignoring food waste as a component of an operation’s health is dangerous. The reality is, food is money. And every time food gets thrown in the trash, it literally represents money leaking from your bottom line.

This webinar will cover what you need to know about putting food waste on your operational scoreboard, starting with measurement and data. Attendees will learn about the principles of food waste prevention, tools to provide data, and strategies to make food waste a central focus for your operation.

What You Will Learn

  • Tools for gathering data and the key performance indicators of food efficiency
  • 5 questions to pressure-test whether food waste is currently on your scoreboard
  • Tips for staff engagement and consistent focus on food waste in the kitchen



Webinar: Federal Food Recovery Opportunities to Meet Executive Order Objectives

Thu, Sep 24, 2015 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM CDT
Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7306168273814174977

Executive Order 13693 (“Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade”, March 2015), calls on federal agencies to maintain leadership in sustainability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A key element of the order is to “advance waste prevention and pollution prevention by . . . diverting at least 50% of non-hazardous solid waste, including food and compostable material.”

Wasted food constitutes the largest quantity of divertible material sent to landfills. Of the estimated 34 million tons thrown out, only 2.5 percent is diverted. Wasted food is estimated at 30-40% of the food supply and is the third largest source of methane gas, one of the most potent greenhouse gases responsible for trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Food recovery, which includes practices such as the purchase of less food, donation of edible food and composting, can significantly reduce waste to landfills. This webinar will outline why federal food purchasing matters and how to include food recovery into strategic planning and food service contracts and leases. It will also feature an example of how a federal and concessioner partnership successfully contributed to food recovery.

Darby Hoover, Senior Resource Specialist, and JoAnne Berkenkamp, Senior Advocate, Food and Agriculture Program, Natural Resources Defense Council, will outline a five-point plan to help federal agencies strengthen business practices and identify high priority waste reduction strategies associated with food services. A representative from the National Park Service is expected to speak as well.

Twelve college campuses leading the way for sustainable dining

Read the full story in the Christian Science Monitor.

Many cafeterias around the United States are working to provide students with healthy, sustainable meal options. To do this, colleges and universities are changing the way that they purchase and prepare food in their cafeterias, and many of them are beginning to source food locally.



Ex-cons at LA Kitchen Feed the Hungry with Food Waste

Read the full story at Shareable.

“Neither food nor people should ever go to waste.”

This is the motto of the LA Kitchen, a project that recovers healthy, local food from the waste stream to feed the hungry and gives unemployed adults—particularly adults exiting prison as well as foster kids aging out of the system—culinary training. The meals they create are distributed to Los Angeles’ most vulnerable populations, with a focus on the elderly.

Chicago City Council approves compost ordinance

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago’s City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance to track and legalize donations of uncooked food scraps to urban farms and community gardens that make fertilizer…

Urban farms and community gardens accepting food scraps will now have to register with the city and maintain records of the scraps donated. The fertilizer, or compost, only is allowed in the site where it is created and cannot be sold unless the farm or garden gets a special permit from the city.

California’s Drought Changes Habits in the Kitchen

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Across California, home cooks and restaurant chefs are adjusting to a new reality in kitchens where water once flowed freely over sinks full of vegetables, and no one thought twice about firing up a big pot of water for pasta.