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Fighting Food Waste

In a move that’s both ambitious and essential, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have renewed their vows to tackle food waste and loss together—but this time, they’ve brought in reinforcements. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is joining the party, expanding the fight against food waste beyond our borders.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, and USAID Administrator Samantha Power have all signing on the dotted line to supercharge this collaborative effort.

“The FDA is committed to achieving the goal of a 50% reduction of food loss and waste by 2030 through a whole-of-government approach in collaboration with the USDA, EPA and USAID,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said. “We also recognize the role that empowered U.S. consumers can play in helping to reach the national food waste reduction goal.”

The Problem

Globally, 30-40% of food produced never makes it to a plate. It’s lost or wasted somewhere along the supply chain—spoiled in fields, damaged by pests, wasted in transit, or simply forgotten in the back of your fridge. Here in the U.S., we throw away nearly 80 billion pounds of food each year. That’s not just food; that’s missed opportunities for better food security, economic growth, and a healthier environment.

The Game Plan

The Federal Interagency Collaboration to Reduce Food Loss and Waste (FIFLAW) is taking a multifaceted approach. They’re rolling out educational materials—including a ‘Social Media Toolkit for Food Loss and Waste‘ and ‘Tips to Reduce Food Waste‘ resources—and conducting outreach. Think federal panels at events, cutting-edge research, and community investments. They’re also diving into voluntary programs, offering technical assistance, and fostering public-private partnerships. Essentially, they’re pulling out all the stops to make a real dent in the problem.

One of the coolest parts of this collaboration is the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions initiative. Back in March 2020, there were 30 champions, but now there are 50. These aren’t just any organizations—these are industry giants like Danone North America, Smithfield Foods, Starbucks, Sysco, and Tyson Foods. They’ve all pledged to cut their food waste in half by 2030. That’s a big deal.

In December 2023, the EPA, USDA, and FDA drafted a National Strategy to Reduce Food Loss and Waste and Recycle Organics. The document outlines more than just an approach to slashing food waste in half by 2030. It’s about cutting greenhouse gas emissions, saving money for households and businesses, and creating cleaner communities.

With USAID now on board, the collaboration is set to make even more waves on an international scale. By engaging with a broader range of stakeholders and leveraging more government resources, the U.S. is positioning itself as a leader in the global fight against food waste.

So, next time you pass up perfectly good produce based on its outward appearance, remember there’s a whole team out there working to change that narrative. With the renewed and expanded efforts of these federal agencies, the future is looking a lot less wasteful.

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