There are so many amazing food waste prevention initiatives happening in the world right now. Below are some incredibly positive changes happening from businesses and individuals that are really making a difference!
THE EPA-DEVELOPED “FOOD: TOO GOOD TO WASTE” CHALLENGE
Here in Deschutes County, 213 households have participated in the Rethink Food Waste Challenge. Folks have been learning all about small things they can do to make change in their habits to reduce the amount of waste in their homes. The challenge is finishing up on June 10, but all the information, resources and tips that were generated are available on our website. Are you interested in the challenge? You can implement your own! Try recruiting your neighbor, or neighborhood! Or maybe your book club or church.
The challenge was implemented by the EPA and has already been used in dozens of cities including King County Washington and, separately, the City of Seattle, the Cities of Gresham and Beaverton plus Clackamas and Washington Counties, City of Jersey, and so many more! If you are connected with an entity that might be interested in implementing this, the tool kit is available to anyone!
FOOD WASTE AWARENESS IN CENTRAL OREGON
The High Desert Food and Farm Alliance (HDFFA – whose mission is to support a healthy and thriving food and farm network in Central Oregon through education, collaboration and inclusivity) has a program called Grow and Give dedicated to getting healthy food to the food banks: because everyone deserves access to fresh produce! You can donate extra produce from the farmer’s market or from your own garden and they get it to folks who will eat it. Look for the grow and give booth at the NWX and Downtown Bend Farmer’s Markets
HDFFA has a lot of incredible collaborative food-related programs that are worth learning about including a food recovery program in partnership with Central Oregon Community College (COCC) and professor Owen Murphy’s Sustainable Food and Nutrition course. HDFFA recently conducted three food waste audits in the dining hall at the campus. Students volunteered to help collect and weigh extra food from their peers plates in order to get some familiar and tangible data for in class poster presentations surrounding wasted food on their campus.
COCC has an active Food Recovery Program through their Sustainability Committee. In partnership with the COCC dining hall and Sodexo, they have diverted 775 pounds of food to Cascade Youth Services and the LOFT so far this year!
Agricultural connections specializes in distributing farm fresh food around the Deschutes County. They work in conjunction with local and regional farms to deliver produce year round. Check out what they do, written up in this Source Weekly article. They work directly with HDFFA and NeighborImpact to deliver the food from the Grow and Give program to the food banks in the county.
NeighborImpact’s Food Recovery Program operates year round to divert 1.3 million pounds of food annually from Deschutes County grocery stores, businesses, and residential donations. That’s 1.3 million pounds of food that is getting to people’s bellies instead of to Knott Landfill!
OSU Hospitality Management and Computer Science major students, under the supervision of professor Todd Montgomery, are trying to find solutions to the issue of food waste, specifically in restaurants. Over the last nine months, the students have built a functional prototype to help restaurants measure food waste. The students did 30-minute demos of the prototype at restaurants around Bend from May 20 – June 3. During these demos, they demonstrated the prototype and explained the concept of how it could help the restaurant combat food waste by recording the amount of food left on each plate at the end of the meal. If the restaurant knows what is being wasted, they would be able to adjust portions accordingly. Is that green salsa always left on the plate after the meal? Maybe we should put a little less on the plate. Do only half the rice and beans get eaten? Let’s change the portions to reflect demand. That way, less food gets wasted. These projects are wrapping up this week!
NATIONAL FOOD WASTE PREVENTION INITIATIVES
Have you heard of the Campus Kitchen Project? It’s a nation-wide that partners with schools to recover food from the cafeteria and engage students as volunteers who prepare and deliver meals to the community. The Food Recovery Network is another organization where students are working to recover food.
An Australian woman named Ronni Kahn started a huge initiative down under after seeing such massive food waste as a corporate events manager. She made a documentary about her story called Food Fighter that tells why and how she created OzHarvest: an Australian food rescue organization.
Here is a great blog article about how governments around the world are encouraging food waste initiatives.
There are also an incredible number of apps that restaurants and food businesses are using to help prevent food waste. There are so many creative ideas out there being shared!
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO RIGHT NOW??
- Tell your friends and family about the challenge! Let them know what you have learned and how they can make changes, too.
- Donate your food that you know you wont eat to NeighborImpact.
- Do you have a garden? Just a little too much cabbage than you can eat? Drop it off at the Grow and Give booth at the farmer’s market!
- Want to help out in another food-related way? In HDFFA’s recent monthly newsletter, they are asking for volunteer recipe testers!
- Keep using the tools that you have learned about during the challenge.
- Choose to buy the lumpy tomatoes and the slightly blemished citrus at the grocery store.
Spread the word. Let people know how big an issue this is.