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Happy Food Waste Prevention Week!

By Blaine Mengistu-Gunn, Food Equity Intern

With more than
one-third of all food in the US wasted, food waste is a problem that needs to be addressed. Reducing food waste has economic, environmental, and social impacts. First, reducing food waste can help both the government and consumers save money. Food waste is one of the biggest perpetrators of greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing food waste can reduce our environmental footprint. Lastly, reducing food waste can lessen food insecurity. According to 2021 projections from Feeding America, 10.5 percent of Prince Georgians are food insecure. While projected numbers have decreased since the height of the pandemic when food insecurity skyrocketed across the county and throughout the country, food insecurity is still higher than prior to the pandemic.

As food insecurity continues to impact Prince George’s County residents, we face the impacts of climate change, economic challenges, and health inequities that the pandemic has exacerbated. Consequently, addressing these challenges becomes even more pressing. For these reasons, the Prince George’s County Food Equity Council (FEC), is working with members to address issues of food waste through a number of initiatives. This includes participating in Food Waste Prevention Week(FWPW) from April 4-8th, 2022.  

FWPW was created by Save the Food Florida (SFF), a Florida-based organization that seeks to conserve food, save families money, and support a healthier environment. SFF created FWPW to address the dangers that food waste poses and provide resources on how to reduce food waste. Through social media challenges and educational graphics, the FEC will join organizations across the country to inform the public about the impacts of food waste and opportunities to reduce food waste in our homes, work, and communities. The organizers will also be hosting a series of webinars featuring diverse stakeholders across the food system who will be sharing their perspectives and best practices for reducing food waste. The ultimate goal of the week is to have individuals and organizations pledge to reduce food waste in any way possible. 

FWPW is one of many opportunities and initiatives in the county to reduce food waste. In 2019, The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) published Reduce, Recovery, and Recycle: Food Waste in Prince George’s County, a report on policies and recommendations to reduce food waste. The MNCPPC report recommendations were further highlighted in the County Council’s Food Security Task Force Report, a report published in 2022 that includes 11 recommendations to improve food security and access in Prince George’s County. 

The FEC is also working on an initiative to reduce food waste among businesses and food establishments. In 2021, the FEC launched the county’s first food waste platform called Prince George’s County Food Rescue. Through the use of the Food Rescue US proprietary software, the FEC helps coordinate volunteer food rescuers to directly transfer excess food from businesses to local social service agencies that feed residents in need. Through this network, the FEC is working to support hunger relief efforts and reduce food waste in Prince George’s County. 

The FEC is excited to participate as a partner in FWPW and invites residents and organizations to do the same by engaging with our social media campaign, attending webinars, and pledging to reduce food waste. Through the campaign and SFF’s webinars, residents and organizations will gain tools to address food waste. By taking the pledge, residents and organizations pledge to share their knowledge on food waste, hold themselves accountable, and implement best practices to reduce food waste. Ultimately, by participating in FWPW, residents and organizations can take action against the dangers of food waste. Join us! 
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