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News Releases from Region 09

U.S. EPA Honors UC Santa Cruz for Reducing Wasted Food

Contact Information: 
Soledad Calvino (calvino.maria@epa.gov)

SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized the University of California Santa Cruz with an award for outstanding efforts in food recovery. The students, food service staff and university leaders worked together to cut food waste by more than 750 tons from 2013 to 2014.

"As we sit down to our Thanksgiving feasts, it's important to remember just how much food goes to waste in America, where millions still suffer from poor nutrition," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "We're pleased that UC Santa Cruz is doing its part by donating food, composting and taking a national leadership role in reducing food waste."

"We have been told by students that what they learned while dining with us carries over when they go home, and they have become 'waste warriors' for their families and communities," said Clint Jeffries, UC Santa Cruz's Dining Sustainability Manager. UC Santa Cruz is one of 29 recipients of the 2014 Food Recovery Challenge Award given for achieving the highest percentage of food waste prevention. EPA is presenting UC Santa Cruz the top national award for source reduction - reducing wasted food on the front-end through careful training, menu-planning and ordering.

UC Santa Cruz achieved its goal of working towards zero waste in all campus food locations by engaging students on sustainable agriculture and food systems. They reduced 100 tons of food waste, donated 1,000 pounds of food, and diverted 650 tons of food from landfills by expanding composting efforts on campus, saving their university over $19,000.

Across the nation, almost 35 million tons of food go into our landfills annually, at a cost of more than $161 billion. Each year, the average family of four throws away about $1,600 worth of uneaten food. Food waste is the largest single materials in landfills, accounting for 21% of the American waste stream. As food rots in a landfill, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas contributing to climate change that's 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide.

At the same time, one in six Americans lack access to the nutrition they need to live an active, healthy life. While inedible food scraps are best managed by composting or anaerobic digestion, excess leftover edible food should feed people. Surplus food can be donated to local food banks, shelters, and soup kitchens.

In 2014, nearly 800 governments, businesses and organizations participated in EPA's Food Recovery Challenge, including grocers, educational institutions, sports and entertainment venues and restaurants. These entities diverted wasted food from entering landfills or incinerators through a variety of innovative actions, including creative re-use of trimmings by university dining staff; donating excess, wholesome food; composting in urban settings; and using wasted food to produce electricity.

Through innovation and hard work, the Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers have reduced over 606,000 tons of wasted food, including over 88,500 tons donated to feed people, not landfills.

For more information on the Food Recovery Challenge: http://www2.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food