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EPA Administrator Applauds Efforts to Feed the Hungry While Protecting the Planet

Release Date: 11/14/2014
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith smith.bonnie@epa,gov (215) 814-5543

PHILADELPHIA (November 14, 2014) – EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy came to Philadelphia today to recognize Brown’s ShopRite store in West Philadelphia and Drexel University’s Culinary Arts & Food Science Program for developing a new way to help the environment and feed hungry people.

Both Brown’s ShopRite and Drexel University are partners in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge.

“Through EPA's Food Recovery Challenge, we're able to partner with private sector businesses, nonprofits and other entities to not only help reduce the amount of food in landfills and combat climate change, but help businesses save money on waste disposal,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The Brown’s ShopRite and Drexel University Food Lab pilot program is a great example of an innovative solution to encourage food recovery, while providing nourishing meals for the hungry."

In the past the produce department at Brown’s ShopRite stores routinely threw away the less attractive or bruised vegetables and fruits that couldn’t be sold, but were still nutritious. Those fruits and vegetables ended up in landfills where they rapidly decomposed and produced methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Now, Drexel University Food Lab students majoring in culinary arts, culinary science and hospitality management, visit Brown’s ShopRite, collect the still usable fruits and vegetables, and experiment until they have turned the bounty into recipes that are nutritious and easy to prepare. Some of the recipes include fruit cobbler, strawberry jam, dried tomatoes, and stir-fried greens.

The students than turn the recipes over to shelters and other emergency food providers where staff use them to feed people in need.

Dr. Jonathan Deutsch, professor of Culinary Arts and Food Science at Drexel University, and founder of the Drexel Food Lab says, “Our commitment in the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management at Drexel is to provide students an unparalleled experience to prepare the next generation of responsible industry leaders. This food recovery project allows our students to solve real world problems, do good for others, and do good for the environment, while building professional and interpersonal skills that will prepare our students for careers. It’s exactly the type of work we should be doing.”

“Since Browns began our partnership with Organic Diversions and Philabundance and joined the EPA Food Recovery Challenge in late 2012 we have shown continued improvement in our recycling efforts,” said David Deets, director of Store Development and Sustainability for Brown’s ShopRite. “We have diverted more than 2,500 tons of food waste to a local composting facility. Our stores have worked with local food service organizations to donate over 580 tons of fresh food which has been used to feed over 1, 175,000 meals to needy families. Our diversion efforts have helped us reduce our trash to landfills by 65 percent since 2012.”

Surplus food is one of the largest types of materials sent to landfills. While much of it is actually edible, wholesome food that could potentially feed millions of Americans, only three percent is currently being diverted for this purpose.

Through its Food Recovery Challenge, EPA encourages organizations to reduce, donate, and recycle as much of their excess food as possible, which saves money, feeds the needy, and helps protect the environment.

The Drexel Food Lab, in partnership with EPA and Brown’s Shop Rite, has developed a series of low-cost, easy recipes to make surplus foods tasty and easily prepared as an attractive alternative to composting or, worse, sending it to a landfill. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the Food Lab, and its partner, The Enterprise Center, a Local Foods Promotion Program Planning Grant to explore the commercial viability of the new pilot program.

As a participant in the Food Recovery Challenge, Brown's ShopRite works with EPA to track waste generation and reduction, including changes in purchasing, food donations, and composting.

For more information about food waste:

EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge:

To view EPA’s Food Recovery video, go to;
The video features several businesses donating food to homeless shelters and for composting.