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EPA Spotlights Food Recovery with Atlanta Community Food Bank

Release Date: 11/18/2014
Contact Information: Dawn Harris Young, EPA, (404) 562-8421 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main), harris-young.dawn@epa.gov

ATLANTA - To begin the holiday season, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials toured the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) and met with staff to discuss the importance of food waste reduction as part of the agency’s Food Recovery Action Week. The week is a reminder to consumers and businesses alike of the importance of reducing wasted food.

EPA Assistant Regional Administrator Ken Lapierre spoke with ACFB staff and volunteers about EPA’s work to address food waste and how those efforts could benefit the food bank. “A shocking amount of edible food is wasted every day, instead of being donated to area food banks,” said Ken Lapierre, EPA Assistant Regional Administrator. “These donations would help the Atlanta Community Food Bank do more to feed the hungry and also reduce waste going into landfills.”

Lapierre met with more than 100 members of the ACFB staff, toured the facility in southwest Atlanta and learned about the mission of the food bank.

“Atlanta Community Food Bank is able to distribute more than 50 million pounds of food across our 29-county service area and into the homes of people who are struggling with hunger. Historically, much of the food that is donated to us would otherwise go to waste were it not for an incredible network of partners, volunteers and donors that works with us to ensure that good food gets to tables,” said Bill Bolling, Executive Director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Food accounts for the greatest percentage, more than 20%, of waste going to landfills in the United States. One way to reduce that volume of waste is by donating edible food that would otherwise be thrown away. According to EPA’s Municipal Characterization Report, Americans are wasting more than 35 million tons of food per year, 95 percent of which is thrown away into landfills or incinerators. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that this translates into a loss of approximately $165 billion annually. At the same time, 14.9 percent of households in the U.S. were food insecure in 2011, meaning they did not know where their next meal would come from.

To help, families can donate food to their local food bank. EPA also offers a tool called “Food: Too Good to Waste” that helps communities nationwide reduce the food that goes to landfills: http://westcoastclimateforum.com/food The toolkit offers five strategies for reducing wasted food at home: get smart (through measuring what you’re throwing away), smart shopping (templates to help shoppers make lists with meals in mind), smart storage (a guide with straightforward information on how to keep produce fresh the longest), smart prep (prepare food right after purchase to make it last longer and easier to whip up meals later on), and smart saving (a guide on how to design your fridge to ensure you’re eating foods by what will spoil first).

For the extra food that has no other use, EPA offers tools for families on how to compost at home, including how to build a compost pile or bin: http://www2.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home. Compost is nature’s recycler and is part of the Earth’s life cycle. It’s is a valuable soil amendment that provides nutrients to the soil for new, healthy plant to grow.
EPA’s food waste page - http://www2.epa.gov/recycle/reducing-wasted-food-basics

Businesses can also do their part to reduce food waste and boost their bottom line by joining over 760 organizations across the country and sign up for EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge (FRC): http://www.epa.gov/foodrecoverychallenge/joinnow.htm. The Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of materials through their entire life cycle, including how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled, and disposed. Through the FRC, the EPA partners with organizations and businesses to prevent and reduce wasted food. Challenge participants save money, help communities, and protect the environment by purchasing less, donating extra food, composting.

EPA also has a guide and tool kit specifically for the Food Service and Restaurant industries: http://go.usa.gov/GXpw, http://go.usa.gov/GXVm, http://go.usa.gov/GXdH
The agency has collected many success stories from around the country. Find some of them here: http:///www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/foodwaste/fd-recduce.htm

Connect with EPA Region 4 on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eparegion4

And on Twitter: @EPASoutheast