2017 - the Year of Food Waste Reduction and Recovery

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In March of 2017, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi signed a resolution passed by the County Board of Supervisors declaring 2017 the Year of Food Waste Reduction and Recovery in Dane County.  In support of the ambitious goal set by the USDA and EPA to reduce domestic food loss and food waste by 50% by 2030, Supervisors have resolved to make Dane County a leader in this important initiative.

According to the resolution, the United States spends an estimated $218 billion each year -- 1.3% of GDP -- growing, processing, transporting and disposing of food that is never eaten.  Food loss and waste is the single largest component of disposed U.S. municipal solid waste, costing municipalities collectively more than $1 billion. This massive waste not only impacts food security but also water and resource conservation, economic development and climate change.

“While the task and the numbers may seem daunting, all we really need is for each person, municipality, or entity to take a very small step, any step, to reduce or reuse food waste.”  according to Bill Warner, Chair of the Dane County Food Council. “Throw less out, donate extra or volunteer for a day.  The cumulative effect will snowball into benefits environmentally and economically for the County as a whole.”

While this effort is just getting underway in some regions, Dane County already has many groups and individuals involved in food waste reduction and recovery.   In the recovery work, food bank powerhouses like Community Action Coalition and Second Harvest collaborate with smaller, more specialized groups such as the Geezer Gleaners or Healthy Food For All of Dane County to maximize the number of meals recovered and provided to needy County residents.

“We appreciate the County’s leadership and encourage folks to get involved in this cutting edge effort!”  says Chris Brockel, Project Manager for Healthy Food For All of Dane County.  “There’s plenty you can do to reduce food waste at home and, of course, we welcome all willing volunteers interested in making a bigger impact.”

In 2016, during it’s first full year of operation, HFFA helped recover and distribute over 80,000 pounds of prepared food and more than 20,000 pounds of fresh produce mostly from local farms.  With the average meal weighing approximately one pound, this initial effort is estimated to have recovered the equivalent of 100,000 meals which helped reduce food insecurity for needy households across the area.  Volunteers and other support is needed to expand this effort and capture even more otherwise unused food in 2017 and achieve a 50% reduction by 2030.

The complete text of the resolution is available on Legistar.  For more information about the Dane County Food Council, check out their website and Facebook page. For more information about Healthy Food For All of Dane County, check out their website and Facebook page.

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