On Monday, July 31, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced the Food Recovery Act of 2017, a comprehensive bill aiming to reduce food waste in stores and restaurants, schools and institutions, on farms, and in American homes.
The Food Recovery Act addresses food waste throughout the food system, representing a comprehensive response to the 40 percent of food wasted in the US each year and a critical first step toward meeting our National Food Waste Reduction Goal to halve food waste by 2030. The Food Recovery Act will help reduce food waste at the consumer level by standardizing confusing food date labels; the proposed standard labels match the dual date label system FLPC has called for since publication of The Dating Game in 2013.
The Act will also reduce food waste in schools by encourage cafeterias to purchase lower-price “ugly” fruits and vegetables and extending educational grant programs that teach students about food waste and recovery. The Act will reduce food ending up in the landfill by including composting as a conservation practice eligible for support under existing USDA conservation programs; supporting food waste-to-energy projects; and creating an infrastructure fund to help construct more large-scale composting and anaerobic digestion facilities.
Finally, the Act strengthens the federal government’s commitment to reducing food waste by establishing a Food Recovery Liaison at USDA; requiring companies that contract with the federal government to donate surplus food; and directing USDA to conduct more research on the amount of food wasted at the farm level and new technologies to increase the shelf life of fresh foods.
“This bill would address inefficiencies that lead to waste across all aspects of the food supply chain–curbing the 62 million tons of food thrown out each year in the United States,” said Senator Blumenthal. Congresswoman Pingree added that "Food waste in America is a growing problem, but it is also an opportunity. We can save money for consumers, create economic opportunity, and feed those in need while keeping perfectly good food out of landfills.”
The Food Recovery Act builds on a growing series of reports and resources by FLPC and partners describing policy changes at various levels that could help reduce food waste, and incorporates recommendations from Don’t Waste, Donate: Enhancing Food Donations through Federal Policy (March 2017) and Opportunities to Reduce Food Waste in the 2018 Farm Bill (May 2017), which both outline policy changes the federal government can implement to better align our laws with the goal of donating surplus food to those in need.
FLPC is proud to support the Food Recovery Act, which is introduced as a pivotal moment to address the systemic barriers standing in the way of reducing food waste, taking a keen eye toward the food waste problems of today and anticipating the food recovery solutions of tomorrow.