04 May EPA’s Northwest regional Food Recovery Challenge winners both Oregon-based this year
Newport Avenue Market in Bend and University of Oregon Dining Facilities – Eugene, earn local honors for outsized efforts in preventing food waste
(Seattle) – The scope and scale of the food waste challenge in America is daunting. Recognizing the gravity, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, through its EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge program, is encouraging and empowering local programs to craft local solutions to this pervasive problem. EPA is incentivizing participation in the program by showcasing local food waste prevention champions, both nationally and regionally.
For two Oregon food-related operations, the Newport Avenue Market in Bend and the University of Oregon’s Dining Facilities & Services in Eugene, that was just “too much.” They had to act. The result: two award-winning programs that help divert perfectly palatable food away from the landfill and to the people most in need.
“EPA’s Food Waste Recovery Challenge champions have demonstrated that our hungry neighbors can and do benefit from the redirection of nutritious, wholesome food – food that would have otherwise been thrown away,” said Chris Hladick, EPA’s Regional Administrator in Seattle. “Winners like Newport Avenue Market and the Dining Services pros at the University of Oregon are making remarkable progress and are pushing to help meet our national goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030.”
EPA statistics show that 40.7M tons of food is wasted every year, with 75% of that (30.6M tons) going into landfills. Food waste hurts the economy, cripples our communities and damages the environment by wasting the resources used to grow and transport food. As you read this. one in nine American families are experiencing some level of food insecurity according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Yet food waste is the single largest type of waste thrown away each year in our daily trash.
Over 1,000 businesses, governments and organizations participated in in 2019. Participants prevented or diverted over 815,000 tons of food from entering landfills or incinerators, saving participants up to $42.3 million in avoided landfill tipping fees.
Here are “snapshots” of the 2019 Northwest winners’ programs:
Newport Avenue Market – Bend, Oregon
Food recovery in Central Oregon is tough, but because Newport Avenue Market owners and employees are tougher, and take pride in helping their community, they have a rich history of recovering food. The central Oregon grocer captures an estimated 49,000 pounds of recovered food per year for its gleaner program, and the food primarily goes to feed residents at senior centers and nursing homes in the region, with some food going to homeless shelters.
The Newport Avenue store’s composting program is driven by its produce, meat, dairy, and deli departments with an average per week of 1.25 tons food scraps collected and an estimated yearly total of 66.5 tons diverted. Contact: Lauren Johnson, [email protected], (541) 419-6610
University of Oregon Dining Facilities & Services – Eugene, Oregon
The University of Oregon began its composting program in 2008, collecting 27 tons of food scraps and compostable items in the first year. Over the next ten years, they grew the program substantially, composting 370 tons in 2018. In total, the University of Oregon has diverted over 2,400 tons of compostable material from landfills through composting alone. In 2018, aggressive food donation efforts by the dining facilities accounted for another 50 tons of diverted food.
In 2019, composting facilities in the State of Oregon collectively changed to a ‘Food Waste Only’ collection, which drastically affected the University of Oregon’s post-consumer compost collection efforts. For the future, the University of Oregon Dining Facilities and commercial food waste reduction consultant, LeanPath, are partnering to further reduce food waste. LeanPath’s food waste prevention technology monitors all the food that is wasted in commercial the university’s kitchens and uses the data to train employees on the least wasteful ways to prepare food. Contact: Phil Chesbro, [email protected], (541) 514-5814