The fight against food waste just got some powerful allies. The USDA and EPA joined with Sodexo and other private sector organizations to set the first national goal for reducing the food waste sent to landfills in half by 2030.
As part of this first-ever national food waste reduction effort, the federal government will lead a new partnership with charitable and faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments to reduce food loss and waste, leading to improved food security and conservation of our resources.
About a third of the food produced in the U.S. is wasted—that’s 133 billion pounds—and food waste is the single largest component in municipal landfills, which in turn means that food waste accounts for a significant portion of methane emissions from landfills.
The USDA is launching a new consumer education campaign through its Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion with information on food loss and waste facts and reduction tips. A new section on ChooseMyPlate.gov will educate consumers about reducing food waste to help stretch household budgets. These initiatives join the ongoing federal initiatives of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge and other food loss reduction initiatives.
Sodexo serves 9,000 client sites in North America so we feel a great sense of opportunity and responsibility to reduce food waste. In October, we will sponsor a five-day campaign at client sites around the world called WasteLESS Week. This program challenges consumers to think differently about waste and its effect on the environment, as well as ways they can make a difference and inspire change.
I’m proud to say that Sodexo Foundation supports programs aimed at food recovery and Sodexo is one of the largest donors of surplus perishable and non-perishable food items. As part of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow commitments, our Stop Hunger program encourages all of our foodservice accounts to divert surplus food by donating to local charities to help feed those most in need. In June, we announced our commitment to recover enough food over the next year to donate 1 million meals.
Two national partners that help us divert safe and nutritious food to feed our neighbors in the communities we live and work are Food Recovery Network and The Campus Kitchens Project. The Food Recovery Network is a student-led organization founded in 2011 that recovers food on 150 campuses. To date, it has recovered nearly 900,000 pounds of food that is donated to those in need.
The Campus Kitchens Project has recovered 4,640,630 pounds of food since its founding in 2001 and used that food to create nearly 2.5 million healthy, balanced meals for those in need. Student volunteers develop partnerships, recover food, plan menus, run cooking shifts, organize drivers, garden, glean and teach nutrition education to children and families. Recently George Mason University became the 20th Sodexo-supported Campus Kitchen to launch a student-run kitchen that will keep food from going to waste, and turn it into nutritious meals for those who are struggling with food insecurity.
About 14% of U.S. households are considered food insecure— they don’t have enough food to sufficiently feed themselves. By working together, we can make a difference for hungry people. By reducing food losses by just 15%, we would provide enough food for more than 25 million Americans every year, helping to sharply reduce incidences of food insecurity for millions. It is as simple as feeding people, not landfills!
Bob Stern is President of the Sodexo Foundation and Group General Counsel for Sodexo. Mr. Stern is a strong advocate for the new performance frontier: Quality of Life. He is committed to mobilizing communities and resources to ensure children have dependable access to enough nutritious food to enable them to lead a healthy, productive life.