Syracuse University and RIT partner to reduce food waste

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The Center for Sustainable Community Solutions (CSCS) at Syracuse University and the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) at the Rochester Institute of Technology are partnering with a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to help New York State communities and stakeholders by reducing the amount of edible food that is wasted.

The USDA estimates that approximately 35% of food produced in the United States is not consumed, which, according to the non-profit organization Rethink Food Waste through Economics and Date (ReFED), results in an annual national cost of over of 400 billion dollars. Food waste is also a major contributor to global climate change and wastes significant amounts of fresh water, energy and other agricultural inputs. Perhaps most glaringly, the United States wastes more than a third of its food supply, while Feeding America estimates that one in nine Americans goes hungry.

To help alleviate these issues, CSCS and NYSP2I are collaborating to develop a series of workshops, guidance materials, and technical assistance opportunities for community leaders across New York State, with a focus on rural areas. These community leaders and other stakeholders will receive advice, training and support for the creation of local sustainable organics management plans.

Aspects of the plans will include quantification and characterization of local food losses, identification of food loss reduction opportunities, establishment of edible food recovery networks, creation of systems for collecting and processing leftover food ( example, composting), etc.

“We are excited to team up with NYSP2I to complement each other’s experience and knowledge in reducing food waste,” said CSCS Deputy Director Melissa Young. “Our teams will work with communities to develop solutions to provide more edible food to hungry people and divert more organic material for recycling into valuable soil amendment.”

This effort will help expand the benefits of New York State’s Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Act, which went into effect January 1, 2022, by providing additional support to stakeholders who may or may not be affected by law. Currently, the law only affects certain entities that generate an annual average of two tonnes or more of food waste per week.

“Creating a better, more sustainable future for our rural communities requires teamwork and collaboration with all stakeholders,” says Charles Ruffing, Director of NYSP2I. “NYSP2I is thrilled to partner with these communities and the CSCS to help reduce edible food waste in the Empire State.”

The CSCS and NYSP2I will begin promoting the workshop series this spring with the goal of facilitating multiple training events throughout the summer. If you would like to receive updates on the workshop series or learn more about this program, please contact Jesse Kerns, SU-CSCS Program Manager, at [email protected]

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