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Reducing Holiday Food Waste

Lucy May | WXVU, Cincinnati Edition | 8 Dec. 2022

Our Director, Maddie Chera, joined Georgine Getty, Executive Director of Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen and Social Center, and Tony Staubach, Food Waste Diversion Coordinator of Hamilton County R3source, live on Cincinnati Edition to discuss food waste and food insecurity now during the holiday season and throughout the year.

According to Feeding America, 12.5% of Hamilton Co. were food insecure in 2020 (some evaluations are higher!) and each year 108 billion pounds of food is wasted in the US (130 billion meals) worth $408 billion dollars in 2021.

One of the first steps in reducing food waste and increasing food recovery, redistribution, and composting is to understand the landscape. Our Food Policy Council conducted a review of our food waste landscape in this region a few years ago, with input from many of our partners like Hamilton Co. R3Source and the City of Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability, who have led on the issue of food waste for quite some time. The State of Wasted Food Report from 2019 is available on our website. It’s a great orientation resource to food waste issues in our region and beyond and provides several key recommendations.

Now, a few years later, we're excited to see our region is working on some of those recommendations, including through Tony’s role at R3source, the City of Cincinnati’s adoption of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, and the work of other partners dedicated to food recovery, processing, and redistribution, like La Soupe, Last Mile Food Rescue, Society of St. Andrew, and many of the food access points in neighborhoods, like Our Daily Bread.

Locally, we are contributing, alongside so many residents, in the collaborative process to create a new Green Cincinnati Plan. At the input sessions, so many of our neighbors came out to weigh in on what we want to prioritize in food waste and how that fits into an equity-focused plan for the city.

The Food Policy Council has advocated in support of the Food Donation Improvement Act of 2021, and we are hopeful that the bill will pass soon. The bill would expand the liability protection that organizations, including food retailers, have in donating good food they won’t be serving themselves. It clarifies and strengthens federal oversight of food safety in donations and allows for the reduced cost sale of donated food as well as free distribution.

There is potential for the upcoming Farm Bill, an immense package of federal legislation that activates massive funding related to food and nutrition, to address food waste. Get involved in our work to learn more about how you can advocate around these national policies and related state-level implications.

A resilient regional food system is our vision and goal. Food waste is connected to every part of our work, as we always have to think about the end-of-life of the products and resources we use to be truly sustainable.

Large institutions like hospitals, schools, and workplaces can lead by having waste reduction plans built into their catering policies and utilization of composting services.

Individuals and groups can volunteer in local food recovery and redistribution or composting projects, join us to get involved in policy advocacy, and support our work with partners across the region through donations.


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