How Food Matters helps cities leverage their power to shift the food system

Read the full story at Waste360.

Cincinnati, Ohio set bold goals in its Climate Action Plan. Among them are reducing food waste by 20 percent by 2025 and hitting 50 percent by 2028 –at the same time the metropolis aims to triple urban food production. The idea is to get a better grasp on two big problems. One is food insecurity; it impacts 33 percent of Cincinnati families. The other is amassing organics in landfill, to the tune of about 12,592 tons of residential food waste in 2021; that figure nearly doubles when food manufacturers’ and food service providers’ waste is added to the equation.

The initial challenge is just making people aware these food system problems are real and of their consequences. Then come the tasks of developing infrastructure to capture and recover more would-be waste; figuring out how to scale solutions; securing funding; and changing behavior, says Robin Henderson, program manager, City of Cincinnati, Office of Environment & Sustainability.

Ohio’s third largest city, Cincinnati is busy carving out strategies and a work plan, but getting started was not easy, and there are still mountains to climb.

Coming up with a robust plan, then executing it can be daunting for any municipality. The Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Food Matters program launched several years ago to help, beginning with pilots in Nashville, Baltimore, and Denver. The initiative has since grown, with over 20 cities now involved.

The Food Matters team guides participants in developing programs and policies around preventing waste and capturing food’s value, meeting them where they are, whether at the very beginning of their journey or, like Cincinnati, well on their way.

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