Feds Set Goal to Cut US Food Waste in Half

Sep 17, 2015

The Obama administration is challenging America to reduce food waste by half in 15 years.

In an announcement Wednesday, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency said they would team up with food retailers, charity groups and local governments to meet that goal. 

(Read the NPR story here.)

The average family of four in the U.S. tosses out nearly $1,500 of food each year, according to the USDA, which means about 31 percent of the national food supply is ending up in landfills.

Cutting that much food waste in 15 years requires a lot of work from the farmer all the way to the consumer, according to Dana Gunders, a staff scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"It’s going to take prioritizing this issue and funding it, so that we can really build the right infrastructure, conduct the right public education and really support businesses in making the changes that we'll need," she said.

Gunders said food banks will need more refrigerated trucks to recover food, grocery stores will need the proper software to manage their orders and consumers will have to learn how to manage their food purchases better.

Part of the federal plan includes getting as much healthful food to the one in six Americans who are food insecure.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement that reducing food waste would also help lower the amount of methane coming off of landfills and protect the natural resources on the planet.

The announcement comes a week before the United Nations is expected to set its own sustainability goals.

To read more about food waste, check out the award-winning series from Harvest Public Media: Tossed Out: Food Waste in America.

Editor's note: an earlier version of this story mistakenly stated "The average family of four in the U.S. tosses out nearly $1,500 of food each month..." The correct figure is $1,500 each year.