By María Cecilia Pfund
On Tuesday, April 6, three members of the DC Food Recovery Working Group ( Kate Urbank, María Cecilia Pfund and William Reid) participated in a panel on food waste and food insecurity. Other panelists included Jeanne Blakenship ( Vice President of Policy Initiatives and Advocacy for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) and Dr. Elise Golan (Director for Sustainable Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Congressman Jim McGovern, chair of the Hunger Caucus and the Food is Medicine Working Group, came to give a brief introduction and highlighted the problem of food insecurity in the US, calling for more findings be available for nutrition programs.
Jeanne Blakenship provided insights on how nutrition professions are looking for ways to educate consumers to reduce food waste with tools including fun handouts and quizes. She also talked about initiatives in collaboration with other organizations such as Feeding America and Further with Food to increase outreach and awareness about these issues.
Dr. Elise Golan focused on the commitment of USDA in reducing food waste. She mentioned the formal agreement signed last year to decrease food waste by half under the Winning on Reducing Food Waste initiative. Additionally, she explained that the Farm Bill created for the first time a Food Loss and Waste Reduction Liaison, which hasn’t yet been funded. Moreover, she showed how USDA is working on research and development products such as edible straws out of food out of fruits and vegetables that otherwise would be wasted.
Kate Urbank talked about opportunities to participate in food rescue through Food Rescue US. Also, she talked about the important role of policies to provide liability protection for food donations and suggested the need to strengthen the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act so that food could also be donated to individuals directly.
Finally, William Reid shared his experienced living off discarded food and gave insight into the large amount of perfectly edible food that is thrown daily into the garbage. He also talked about the high cost of healthful food, which makes it challenging for people with tight budgets to afford a healthy diet.
Overall, it was a well attended and insightful discussion that shed light to the causes, challenges and possible solutions for food waste and food insecurity. Everyone was invited to commit to participate in food rescue activities and diverse ways to decrease food waste.