Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Waste Not...

by Dorothy Cadet, TCFPC Intern

Up to 40% of food produced in the United States goes uneaten, is thrown away, spoils or is dumped into landfills across the country. This amount of food waste that sits and rots in landfills could have been used to feed families, animals or turned into nourishing compost to enrich the soil for more produce to grow.   

With nationwide focus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge to challenge retailers to reduce their waste and loss by 50% by the year 2030.  Many large retail companies have taken on the challenge and embraced it: Ahold USA, Blue Apron, Bon Appetit, Campbell’s, ConAgra Foods, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, Sodexo, Unilever, Walmart, Wegman’s, Weis and Yum! Brands, have all stepped up to help prevent, recover and recycle loss and waste of food and food-related waste. 

Local Focus

Sodexo has partnered with Texas Christian University (TCU) to prevent food waste by recovering and redistributing excess food to a local homeless shelter, Union Gospel Mission, through TCU’s Food Recovery Network (FRN). The recovery and redistribution effort between Sodexo and TCU is led by FRN President Lexi Endicott and fellow students. Endicott states that at present, TCU FRN recovers food weekly from two campus dining halls and delivers it to the partner agency on Mondays and Fridays. Food from Sodexo’s other retail and entertainment locations, such as basketball and football arenas, is also collected and delivered to Union Gospel Mission. TCU FRN has also partnered with Einstein Bros Bagels to collect landfill-bound bagels each week and divert them to a food pantry – Northside Inter-community Agency (NICA).

Endicott reports that the efforts of dozens of student volunteers has prevented over 12,000 pounds of food from going to the landfill in just the last year and a half. Instead of being thrown away, this food was diverted to those in need. This program is a team effort that takes approximately three volunteer hours per week, many hours serving at Union Gospel Mission, and countless administrative hours. Students have been impacted by becoming more aware of their own personal food waste, and FRN has been an important catalyst for increased understanding of the impact of nationwide and global waste, loss, and recovery.

TCU students get fresh, leftover food from Sodexo ready to transport to Union Gospel Mission.

“I have seen people transform from volunteers into food waste champions. FRN has been a great motor for education and awareness on our campus, it has been a great outlet for students to serve their community, and the food donations have certainly benefited our recipient organizations,” Megan McCracken, TCU FRN’s former president said.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Cowboy Compost has pioneered the effort to reduce and recycle waste.  They provide individuals with composting services which include education, compost buckets, and reasonably priced biweekly home pick up.  For the retail, sporting, and entertainment venues, they can craft a plan to help that location become a “zero waste” zone.  Surprisingly, as part of their reasonably priced marketing package, anyone can contact them to coordinate a “Zero Waste Party” and purchase compostable plates, cups and utensils, which encourages all items be sent for composting. 

Local Impact

It isn’t just our partners that have the power to stop food waste. You have the power to impact not only Fort Worth through prevention of over-purchasing or wasting of food, but you can recover food by donating uneaten food directly to those in need or recycle food waste and loss to composting.  If every individual reduced their personal waste and loss, along with retail business commitment to reduce wastes by 50%, we can all impact hunger, our environment, and our planet.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can become involved in learning about food waste, click on any of the links above or contact Tarrant County Food Policy Council to find out what our Food Recovery Working Group is doing to prevent food from being wasted and how you can help.

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