The FRWG Food Waste Warriors Lobby to Save Good Food!

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On Monday, June 11, members of the District’s Food Recovery Working Group (FRWG) lobbied the DC Council to move the Save Good Food Amendment Act forward.  Seylou, a DC bakery and regular contributor of food to Food Rescue US in DC provided (delicious!) leftover baked goods for the effort.

The Save Good Food Act would provide tax incentives to DC residents and businesses who donate food to those in need.  Amy Kelley, Policy lead for FWRG notes, “This is a good bill for DC businesses and residents. Unfortunately, some 11 percent of DC residents don’t have enough food to eat.  This bill would provide a small credit to DC businesses who donate safe, healthy food.  It would also help clarify some of DC’s confusing food donation and labeling laws and keep good food out of the landfill.”

The bill was introduced to the Council in early 2017.  It was passed unanimously by the Council’s Committee on Health last summer.  Since then, it has been languishing in the Committee on Finance and Revenue, which is chaired by Councilmember Jack Evans.  The bill can’t go before the full council for a vote until it passes out of the Finance and Revenue Committee.  Kelley notes, “We have every indication that Councilmembers are in favor of this legislation.  This bill also has broad support from DC businesses, non-profits, and residents. We just need to get Councilmember Evans to bring this bill before the Committee for a vote.”

Want to become a Food Waste Warrior and take action on this issue?  Call Councilmember Evans’s office at  (202) 724-8058and tell him that you support the Save Good Food Amendment Act and want to see it move forward. Sign the petition urging Councilmember Evans to bring the Save Good Food Amendment Act to a vote.  Want to get involved in the effort to rescue good food in DC? Contact Kate Urbank of Food Rescue US in DC at kate@foodrescue.us.

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Help Fight DC Food Waste & Hunger on Your Schedule

Help Reduce DC Food Waste while Feeding People in Need with Food Rescue US

A food runner transporting donated food from RavenHook Bakehouse and Whisked to the Developing Families Center.

The Problem: Food Waste

1/3 of all food ($161 billion) in the US is never eaten. That is a huge waste of labor, energy, water, and money. Yet, according to a 2017 USDA report 11.4% of DC households don’t have enough food to adequately feed their families.  Many organizations want to donate their extra food to families in need, but they don’t have the ability to transport the food to the nearest pantry.

The Solution:  DC’s First Food Runner Program “Food Rescue US”

 Food Rescue US, a national food rescue platform, is a FREE food runner program that coordinates volunteers with an app to help transport food, that would normally be thrown away, from a donor (restaurant, grocery, caterer, farmers market, event, etc.) to the nearest food pantry that serves food insecure families.

In less that two years Food Rescue US has coordinated 100s of DC residents to recover over 500,000 pounds of rescued food to DC local food pantries. This is just the beginning!

Food Rescue US is looking for volunteers, food donors, receiving organizations, and anyone who wants to lend a helping hand.

NEED MORE FOOD RUNNER VOLUNTEERS!

There seems to be an unlimited amount of food to recover in DC.  The only limit is the number of food runners.Becoming a food runner is super easy.  After an easy registration at www.foodrescue.us you can pick and chose from a variety of food donations at different times and days around the city, that works best with your schedule.  The Food Rescue US app will send you easy instructions for pickup and drop off of the rescued food to the nearest food pantry.  The whole process takes about 30 mins and every food donation makes a huge impact in many people’s lives.

Please email Kate Urbank, the DC Site Director, at kate@foodrescue.us with any ideas or questions and sign up at www.foodrescue.us to become a food runner.

“It’s such an easy way to help those in need, it takes less than an hour of your day, and when you’re done, you know people will have a good meal to look forward too. It’s pretty amazing that after dropping off food at the homeless shelter a few times, the word gets around, they figure out what you’re doing and when they see you come in the door the next time, their faces brighten, many say thank you, or God bless you, and one less concern of theirs is gone because they know they will get something for dinner that day. It’s a simple way to make an impact on many lives and you bet I walk out with a smile and a good feeling.” – John O.

Have Food to Donate or Need Food Donations?

If you have extra food to donate or if you’re a non profit that feeds people in need and you can use more food donations please email Kate Urbank, the DC Site Director, at kate@foodrescue.us with any ideas or questions and sign up at www.foodrescue.us to give or receive food donations.

Kate Urbank and the Food Rescue US organization have been a wonderful help to our organization. Because of this organization’s efforts we are able to feed more people everyday. Food Rescue US is making a huge difference in the fight against food waste. It is an honor to be in partnership with them.” – Sherene Harris, InspireDC.org

Want to Meet Other Food Runners in DC?

FOOD RESCUE US VOLUNTEER-A-THON!

Thu, June 21 – 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot – 1626 14th St NW
Miss Pixie’s has gone mad for food rescuing! Come learn what it’s all about while enjoying a night of food, drink and prizes for this great cause.
On the evening of Thursday 6/21 – Receive 20% off 1 item when you download the Food Rescue US App!
Then to continue the fun – Receive another 20% off 1 item after completing 10 rescues!
Register Here

Testimonies from DC Food Runners

“As a hotel industry veteran with over 30 years of experience, I have seen more than my share of food waste. Volunteering for Food Rescue US allows me to literally be a vehicle for changing this equation. Knowing that the food I rescue is regularly consumed same day, immediately impacting those in need, is both humbling and the greatest reward”. – Mitchell“People go to bed without food every night, and not just in third world countries. It happens right here in our area and to be able to make good, nourishing food available to people who aren’t as fortunate as some of the rest of us makes you feel like you’re a small part of the solution and not part of the problem.” – Dennis

“I love that just the small gesture of delivering food to those in need really means so much to the recipients and I love that it gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling each and every time I do it. I always get a helping hand, a big thank you, smiles, hugs and real gratitude from the folks that give the food as well as the folks that receive. It’s amazing to be part of the link in this wonderful program.” – Pixie

“Food Rescue US has been a great partner for Sodexo as we work together on food recovery. They have presented a solution that is timely, flexible and effective and involves whole communities in the effort to reduce food waste and feed the hungry. One of the unexpected benefits from being able to donate our leftover prepared foods has been an increased team spirit for our employees who are now thinking about others (hungry people) on a daily basis and doing something to help. We have also seen less overproduction when all leftovers surface and are analyzed at the end of the day. This helps the bottom line!” Laura Monto, GM, Sodexo

“The Latin American Youth Center’s (LAYC) Drop-In Center is a low-barrier day program that provides basic needs (food, clothes, hygiene, etc.) to homeless and unstably housed youth 24 and under, in addition to supporting them with housing, education, and employment services. Over the past few years the Drop-In Center has experienced a heavy influx in youth (35-45 per day) and funding is light, thus they rely heavily on partnerships with other entities to supplement services. Several months ago Food Rescue US entered the radar screen of Drop-In Center staff as a means to supplement the food expenses for the center. From day one, Kate Urbank was committed to the task of providing these youth with quality food that would otherwise be discarded. She immediately hit the pavement and set up runs from local restaurants, catering companies, and large-scale food providers. Even when some youth expressed concerns that food was slightly “too gourmet,” Kate swiftly switched gears and linked up with groups that provided more “youth friendly” foods. Kate and her volunteer runners are a welcome site at the Drop-In Center, not only because they bring offerings, but because they arrive with smiles and positive attitudes. LAYC is very fortunate to have established this partnership with Food Rescue, and look forward to building it for years to come.” John Van Zandt, Program Manager, The Latin American Youth Center:

www.foodrescue.us

What is community composting? This video from ILSR tells the story

 

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The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a member of the DCFRWG, convenes the National Cultivating Community Composting Forum & Workshop each year. This video features attendees sharing their answers to the question, “What is Community Composting?”

Check out their answers in the video!

Community composters serve an integral and unique role in both the broader composting industry and the sustainable food movement. They are the social innovators and entrepreneurs that are collecting food waste by burning calories instead of fossil fuel, employing youth and marginalized groups, and developing innovative data-sharing applications and cooperative ownership structures.

Community composters are the compost educators and facilitators that are building equity and power in our communities from the ground up, by supporting businessesschoolsfarmerscommunity centers, and other communities in need. They are the front lines, grassroots, boots-on-the-ground that are cultivating awareness of and demand for compost and its associated benefits. They are transforming landscapes, urban and rural (and everything in between), by getting compost into the hands that feed the soil that feeds us.

New DC Act Incentivizes Residential Composting in DC

Have you heard? On May 1, the Washington, D.C. City Council unanimously approved an act that gives residents rebates for setting up home composting systems.

The Residential Composting Incentives Amendment Act of 2017 establishes a rebate of up to $75 for District residents who purchase and install a home composting or vermicomposting (worm) system.   

DC has a goal of diverting 80 percent of its waste from landfill or incineration by 2032. Currently, DC’s waste diversion rate is only about 21 percent. This bill will promote residential composting while helping to divert food waste from D.C.’s waste stream.

The composting program will be implemented through D.C.’s Department of Public Works (DPW).  Over the coming months, DPW staff will pilot various compost bin models to identify those that are best suited to D.C.’s urban environment, with an eye towards rat resistance. While the details of the rebate program have yet to be determined, participation in a brief compost training will be mandatory to ensure compliance with the District’s rat abatement program.  

Meanwhile, the District is exploring creative ways to reduce food and other waste streams.  DC’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) began operating critter proof/smell proof community food and garden waste composting bins in 2015. Take a one-hour training and you’ll be able to drop off your food waste at one of these 50 sites around town.  Currently, more than 1000 residents are participating in this program and composting some 12 tons of food and organic waste every month. To learn more, see https://dpr.dc.gov/page/community-compost-cooperative-network.

And, in 2017, city-sponsored Food Waste Drop-Off sites were established in each Ward near weekend farmers’ markets.  The program surpassed expectations with almost 100,000 lbs of food waste collected during the program’s first eight months.  DPW has committed to expanding the program in addition to implementing the residential compost rebate program. See https://dpw.dc.gov/foodwastedropoff for a list of drop off sites, schedule, and acceptable items.

D.C. still has a long way to go to get to that 80 percent waste diversion goal, and they’re looking for creative mechanisms to get there.

 

ZeroWaste Guru Bea Johnson Visits DC

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Bea Johnson’s family of four produces so little waste that their annual output fits in a small jar. She brought their year’s worth of waste to Washington and displayed it on the podium during her talk at UDC. (Photo credit: Ren Crespo Photography)

On Tuesday, April 17th and just in time for Earth Day, over 250 people packed into the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) Ballroom to hear zero waste expert and enthusiast Bea Johnson speak about her adventures – and mishaps — in adopting a zero waste lifestyle.  

The DC Chapter of the Sierra Club and UDC College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) co-hosted the event in UDC’s LEED Platinum Student Center.  And, DC Department of Public Works Director Chris Shorter joined the talk to discuss what DC is doing to help residents and businesses reduce waste.

In line with the evening’s zero waste theme, a pre-reception touted locally-sourced (and delicious!) vegan hors d’oeuvres (provided by Green Plate Catering) as well as thirst-quenching and ever-trendy shrubs made from “rescued” citrus peels, pineapple cores and strawberry tops provided by DC Food Recovery Working Group (FRWG) member and EatOrToss blogger, Rachael Jackson. 

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EatOrToss served shrub made with pineapple cores and citrus peels at a reception before Bea Johnson spoke. (Photo credit: Ren Crespo Photography)

A “zero waste” marketplace included DC FRWG member Kate Urbank of Food Rescue US, Sustainable DC, and keynote sponsor MOM’s Organic Market. Meanwhile, DC FRWG members Amy Kelley and Catherine Plume of (r)evolve along with Veteran’s Compost helped ensure that the evening lived up to its zero waste goal.

While most of us are familiar with the “3Rs” of “reduce, reuse, recycle”, Bea promotes a “5R” lifestyle that includes a focus on “refusing” before reducing, reusing, and recycling, and she adds “rotting” aka “composting” into the mix.  For Bea, “recycling” is a sub-optimal waste reduction strategy and should only be considered when the only other option is landfilling or incineration.

And, Bea’s zero waste tips?  Buy food in bulk when at all possible, and work to limit your wardrobe.  When you do need to make a purchase, consider buying second hand at thrift shops or online.  (eBay is one of her favorite places to find used and second hand items.) Consider buying in bulk from companies that don’t use plastic packaging, and, always forego single use plastics – including straws —  anytime you possibly can.

A positive side effect of going zero waste?  All the money you’ll save! Happy zero-wasting!  

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How many of us wish our kitchen drawers looked like this? In adopting a zero-waste lifestyle, Bea Johnson finds that less is more. (Photo credit: Ren Crespo Photography)

 

Case study: Analyzing the Food Rescue Landscape in Nashville

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At a recent DC Food Recovery Working Group meeting, Emmett McKinney of the Environmental Law Institute shared a summary of the Nashville Food Waste Initiative’s recent research on opportunities to divert surplus prepared food to nonprofits. NFWI is an effort led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, and coordinated by the Environmental Law Institute. The following summary of the report findings was put together by McKinney, NRDC’s JoAnne Berkenkamp and ELI’s Linda Breggin.

Up to 40% of food (along with the water, energy, and land used in production) goes to waste every year in the United States. At the same time, over 13% of Americans—one in eight—experience food insecurity. Facilitating donation of surplus prepared foods from institutions and restaurants is one important way to waste less food and feed more people.

Recent research by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) explored the potential to expand food donation from businesses like institutional foodservice, restaurants, caterers, convenience stores, and retail grocers in Nashville, Denver, and New York City.

The analysis for Nashville found that the equivalent of 9.3 million additional meals could, hypothetically, be rescued from these business sectors per year under optimal conditions. That heightened level of food donation could meet nearly half of the annual need among food-insecure Nashvillians. While the majority of the untapped potential is from grocery stores, donation of prepared food from institutions, restaurants, and caterers could play a major role as well. Prepared foods like entrees, sandwiches, and salads can be particularly helpful to homeless shelters and other organizations that serve people with the most acute food needs.

To better understand the potential to increase donation of prepared food in Nashville, the Nashville Food Waste Initiative (NFWI)—a project of the Natural Resources Defense Council, with additional support from the Environmental Law Institute (ELI)—conducted interviews and surveys with a wide array of last-mile organizations (LMOs), nonprofits that serve prepared meals directly to individuals as well as restaurants, caterers, hotels, universities, event venues, and other institutions.

ELI Research Associate Emmett McKinney presented this research at the March 2 meeting of the DC Food Recovery Working Group. Washington and Nashville are almost identical in size – each with approximately 700,000 residents – though Davidson County (Nashville) faces greater food insecurity, with the rate standing at 16.4% compared with DC’s 12.7%, according to Feeding America.

NFWI’s research identified several unique challenges with donating prepared foods. Prepared foods must be handled safely and kept at the proper temperature. Arranging volunteers and transportation to pick up or deliver prepared food poses another challenge, as does the cost of packaging the food so that it can be safely transported. Liability concerns also can deter donations even though the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (42 U.S. Code §1791) provides broad liability protections. Furthermore, many potential donors are unaware of federal tax incentives that encourage food donation.

NFWI also found that LMOs are extremely diverse in their needs, operational dynamics, and objectives but that, across the board, they are interested in receiving more prepared food. About half of LMOs said they have the capacity, with their current staff and facilities, to increase the number of meals served by modest amounts. For these organizations, more prepared food donations could lead to more meals being served in the near-term.

The other half said they would need to expand their staff, budgets, or facilities in order to significantly increase the number of meals served. For this group, donations of prepared foods are more likely to supplant purchased foods and reduce pressure on their food budgets, rather than increasing the number of meals served.

LMOs reported that the biggest barriers to expanding meal services are funding, staffing, and cold storage capacity. In addition, few LMOs have staff or volunteers to pick-up or receive donations late at night or on weekends.

On the donor end, NFWI also found that institutions (such as hotels, arenas, and universities) vary widely in their operations and objectives. The strongest potential for prepared food donations seemed to be among institutions that prepare food in large batches for events, compared with those that cook to order.

Key donation obstacles reported by institutions include logistical challenges, liability concerns, and awareness of organizations to receive or pick up prepared food donations. Restaurants and caterers echoed many of the same concerns, particularly emphasizing the shortage of staff time, cold storage space, and concerns about food safety.

Across all potential donors, organizations that currently donate said they were enthusiastic about expanding donations. Those that do not currently donate expressed more hesitation about beginning to do so. This suggests that some businesses anticipate challenges when they first begin to donate surplus food and that we need to help them “get over the hump” of starting a new donation program.

The study also examined whether a smartphone application (or “app”) could be a useful tool for facilitating prepared food rescue. LMOs expressed strong interest in such a platform, while potential donors expressed more moderate interest. Interviews revealed that in order to be successful, any app must be easy to join, work well the first few times it is used, and involve a critical mass of users and food offeringsNFWI also found that building direct, personal connections between donors and nonprofits is important in this very relationship-based community.

In November 2017, NFWI convened a key group of stakeholders to discuss these research findings. The robust discussion yielded several key action strategies. They include outreach and education on federal liability protection and tax incentives, on-the-ground “matchmaking” between specific donors and recipient organizations, increased collaboration with the public health department and its inspectors, and a pilot project on packaging food for donation.

In the last few months, NFWI has been taking action on these strategies – notably, by connecting large donors like hotels and stadiums with nearby non-profits, publishing Food Donation Guidelines for Licensed Food Facilities, and disseminating information on the Enhanced Federal Tax Deduction for Food Donation.

The Nashville Food Rescue Landscape Analysis is available hereThe Nashville Food Waste Initiative is a project of the Natural Resources Defense Council. For more information, please contact the Nashville Food Waste Initiative at foodwaste@eli.org

 

 

DC voters: Urge the council to support the Save the Good Food Act!

DC’s Save The Good Food Act, which would streamline food donation policy and incentivize donation via tax credits, needs your help!

Although the Act had several co-sponsors and received no opposition during a public hearing in March 2017, it has been stalled in the Finance and Revenue Committee chaired by Councilmember Jack Evans. If the Act is not voted out of committee and passed to the full Council for vote this year, it dies.

Prove to Evans that this is an issue that District citizens and businesses care about. Contact his office at (202) 724-8058 or jevans@dccouncil.us. Please find a link to a customize-able letter at the bottom of this post.

Why we need this act
According to a USDA report, 11.4% of households in DC are food insecure.  The Save the Good Food Amendment Act was introduced by Councilmember Mary Cheh in 2017 to help address this issue by:

  • Creating a tax credit for food donations in DC;
  • Expanding liability protections for food donations;
  • Requiring the Department of Health (DoH) and the Office of Waste Diversion to create a guide on food donation; and
  • Review and update DC’s strict date labeling laws.

Progress so far
On March 1, representatives from the DC Food Recovery Working Group delivered a petition with over 380 signatures from DC residents, together with letters of support from DC businesses, to Councilmember Evans’ office. The petition and business letters urged Councilmember Evans to pass the Save the Good Food Amendment Act out of the Finance and Revenue Committee so that it can go to the full Council for a vote. It was a strong showing, but, so far, the Act is still in limbo.

The Act won’t help prevent food waste and feed those in need if it’s stuck in committee. Add your voice to the issue today!

Save Good Food Act Business Letter (1)

 

 

 

 

DC’s Food Rescue US program featured on ABC

Our local chapter of Food Rescue US was recently featured on ABC! Check it out here.

Food Rescue US connects organizations with extra food to the nonprofits that need it. An ingenious app recruits volunteer “food runners” to shuttle the food from cafeterias, restaurants and other businesses to groups that help the homeless and other communities in need.

The ABC segment includes an interview with Kate Urbank, who leads Food Rescue US’s operation in DC, and is an active member of the DC Food Recovery Working Group. Also featured are local celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, whose We, The Pizza restaurants make regular contributions and  Shirley’s Place, a drop-in center on Capitol Hill.

As the segment highlights, volunteering for Food Rescue US is very easy. You can select runs based on your schedule, and the entire process usually takes less than an hour. You also see the impact you’re making immediately — good food stays out of the trash and people in need get to eat.

Sign up and download the Food Rescue US app: https://foodrescue.us/

From Trash to Treasure

One day, a month into the 2015 school year, my six-year old son came up to me in the kitchen, and this is how the conversation went:

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Max: “Mom, I have to throw away the milk at lunchtime every day.”

Me: “What milk? You don’t even drink milk” (He has never liked plain milk).

Max: “The milk that they give me at lunchtime”

Me: “Ok. Just say ‘no thank you’ next time”

Max: “I did, but I still have to put it on my tray when I get my food”.

Me: “Really? So you have to take the milk every day at lunchtime? Then what?”

Max: “Then I eat my food and throw everything else out, including the milk carton, which I didn’t open”

 

I admit I was skeptical. This was not something we would ever do at home, and it would go against the what we would want to teach our children about valuing food and taking care of the earth. Could it really be happening on a daily basis at school? And if my kid is doing this, how many other kids might be doing it too?

So I checked with our assistant principal. It was true. She was equally disturbed by all the waste this was causing, but these decisions are not made by the individual schools, but rather by the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Office of Nutrition. So we checked with them to better understand the reasons. Essentially, what we were told made sense: that all PK-5th grade students are served an entire meal for breakfast and lunch, which must include all components: grain, protein, fruit, vegetables, and milk. The intention is to ensure that students are exposed to healthy foods, and by having it in front of them they are more likely to take a bite of something nutritious. It also made it easier for schools serving many students over a busy lunch period to make sure the line moves more quickly, rather than having elementary school children take their time to pick and choose what they want. Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of this model is the amount of food that gets wasted. The people we spoke to at DCPS recognized this problem and provided helpful suggestions such as implementing a “share table” where kids can leave unwanted items on a table which another child might like to have.

It was Christmas 2015, and I had just seen a presentation at my work by a charity called Healthy Babies, which helps at-risk D.C. families have healthy babies. I was so moved by the work they do, including providing meals and teaching healthy ways of cooking to expecting mothers. I asked where they get their food from and was told that they rely a lot on donations. There had to be a way to get the unused milk to those who needed it, whether it was Healthy Babies or another charity. But how?

I discussed the possibilities with our wonderful staff at the school, including the administration, the dedicated staff who work in the cafeteria, and teachers who were volunteering their time to work on sustainability issues. Naturally there were a few concerns. The main, and most common concern, was that the school could get sued if someone gets sick from the donated food. Fortunately, that has never happened, and thanks to the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, no food donor can be sued when donating food in good faith. A simple Google search led me to discover this.

The school staff were incredibly quick to take action. The school was participating in a recycling and compost program, which meant that one of the teachers had taken on the task of conducting a baseline survey at the end of the lunch period. I joined her on one of the days for the survey and we helped the kids sort through trash, recycling, compost, and we put aside the unopened milk cartons, untouched oranges, apples, unopened crackers and other odds and ends. At the end of the lunch period we had collected 67 cartons of milk and over 30 pieces of fruit and packages of crackers. In one day. Let’s multiply this by five days a week. Now let’s multiply this by all the schools in DC.

After a dinner with friends one evening where I couldn’t stop talking about this issue, one of my friends came across an article about MEANS database. So on the same day I was helping to do the baseline survey at the school, I later went to meet with the founders of MEANS. Knowing that those 67 cartons of milk were going to be wasted, I put the box in my car and decided to test out how the MEANS database worked. We stored the milk in the fridge, entered the information about the available milk in the database and waited to see if a charity would claim it. After I left that meeting, I learned that the milk had been claimed by a DC shelter. After that I could not imagine ever throwing away more milk. In addition to feeding people who need it, it could save charities a lot of money.

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Wheeling the new cooler to school

We signed up the school to the MEANS database, and our family donated a cooler which my children wheeled over to the school one morning. Now, twice a week after lunch, a local charity picks up the milk from just outside the school where the cooler is placed. Currently, the local charity is Miriam’s Kitchen. And we are so thrilled to have partnered with them as our “Sister Charity”. What if every school could have a “Sister Charity” that could pick up the un-used food every day? We would really like to explore this possibility with any school that is interested.

In 2016 I joined the newly formed DC Food Recovery Working Group, and found out that they were helping the DC Department of General Services (DGS) develop guidance for schools to donate unused food. As part of the Working Group, I learned about how much is being done on legislation to allow food donations, tax credits for restaurants that donate food, new apps, including one called Food Rescue US that allows you to donate your leftover food by helping to transport it, among many other creative initiatives such as community fridges.

I know I am not alone when I say that I do not want to teach my children that throwing perfectly good food in the trash is okay. Many people are hungry and really need the food. In 2015 there were 13.1 million children living in food-insecure households, and yet up to 40% of our food ends up in landfills every year in the United States. Food waste breaks down and generates methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas that has a warming potential of 21 times that of carbon dioxide (Source: EPA). Then there is the water and land used to grow and produce the food in the first place. Eighty percent of all U.S. freshwater consumption is dedicated to the production and distribution of food. The implications are big.

The good news is that awareness is increasing, with universities and organizations all over the country coming up with innovative ways to tackle this massive challenge. In the District of Columbia, other schools are either starting to divert good food from the trash bin, or asking how it can be done. We know that there is a problem with over-ordering food, which leads to waste in the first place, but we are tackling one problem at a time. Wouldn’t it be nice if official guidance could be provided to any school that is asking if and how this can be done? That’s why I am so happy that the “Save the Good Food Amendment Act of 2017” is being put forward to the DC City Council.   It will open up many more possibilities to make sure good food does not get wasted. If this bill is passed, then the Department of Health will provide a food donation guide for everyone, including schools. We hope you can help support this bill!

 

Written by

Chirine Alameddine

Parent at School Without Walls at Francis Stevens

RescueDishDC is on! Go to these restaurants & fight food waste with your fork

 

This weekend #RescueDishDC kicks off, with more than a dozen DC restaurants highlighting how delicious minimizing food waste can be.

From ricotta made from extra latte milk to cabbage cores pickled for taco fillings, these restaurants are showcasing their ingenuity as a part of DC Food Recovery Week. Whether you care deeply about sustainability, or just want to try something you’ve never tried before, #RescueDishDC will make you rethink “waste.” For a full list of participating restaurants go here.

Restaurants, which often operate on slim profit margins, have long been skilled at making sure very little goes to waste. #RescueDishDC is designed to celebrate and spotlight that creativity, while also inspiring home cooks to reexamine the potential tasty ingredients that they may be throwing away. Carrot greens, pickling brine, extra dough, herb stems, lemon rinds–all of them can live on in delicious ways.

Hungry yet? Here’s a quick sample of what’s on offer for #RescueDishDC (Click here for a full list and more details on the dishes):

  • ANXO – Cider made from foraged apples
  • Little Red Fox – roasted carrots with latte-milk ricotta and carrot-green pesto
  • Mellow Mushroom (Adams Morgan) – Caesar salad with bread-end croutons & bruschetta with tomato ends
  • National Geographic Cafeteria – veggie chips made from pulp leftover after juicing
  • Santa Rosa Taqueria – Taco stuffed with pickled cabbage core and portobello stems
  • Teaism – salmon belly served with pickled collard stems

#RescueDishDC, in its inaugural year, is organized by the DC Food Recovery Working Group and goes from Saturday, Oct. 21 to Saturday, Oct. 28.

“We have a great lineup of restaurants,” said Rachael Jackson, a Working Group board member who writes about funky-looking food dilemmas at EatOrToss.com. “I’ve learned so much from their creative dishes and can’t wait to visit them all during DC Food Recovery Week.”

As if supporting efforts to reduce food waste and enjoying fantastic food weren’t enough, you can also win a restaurant gift card via the #RescueDishDC initiative. Just tweet or post public Facebook images of your food and/or drinks with the hashtag #RescueDishDC and you could win a meal at one of the participating restaurants.