In Travis County (where Austin is located) 18 percent of the population and 25 percent of the children are food insecure. This means that they don’t know where their next meal will come from. Meanwhile, 194.5 million pounds of food (worth more than $208 million) is wasted annually in this city.
So how do we fix this imbalance? A new group of activists are hoping to create a solution. The Save The Food Coalition is working to create a new city ordinance that will require restaurants and businesses to donate or sell their leftover (but still edible food), instead of just throwing it away or composting it.
But wait, isn’t this already happening?
Our city already has a policy that requires food-related business to divert organic waste from the landfill. They can do this in a number of ways, including by donating food, composting, and simply reducing the amount of waste produced in the first place. This is a part of the Universal Recycling Ordinance, which has been popular within the environmental community, but as the Save The Food Coalition sees it, there are even more opportunities to serve the community and reduce waste at the same time.
In a Facebook Live interview with the Austin EcoNetwork earlier this week, Save The Food Coalition Founder Allen Schroeder explained that the problem is that the typical grocery store, for example, creates two types of organic waste:
- Food scraps, food that is no longer edible, soiled paper – this is a great candidate for composting
- Food that is still safe to eat, but has been taken off the shelves because of unsightly bruises or because it’s slightly past the sell-by-date (but not actually gone bad) – this is food that, as a volunteer, Schroeder already picks up from some local grocery stores and donates to nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry. Now, Schroeder wants to ensure that this edible food is saved and donated at all grocery stores across the city.
This whole idea comes back to the Food Waste Hierarchy, a concept often used within the environmental community to ensure that food waste always goes to the highest and best use.
With so many people in Austin in need of better access to food, Schroeder hopes that the new ordinance will not only reduce the amount of waste that we send to the landfill, but will also fill an important community need.
Right now, the Save The Food Coalition is in the research and coalition-building phase. If you would like to learn more about the coalition, or get involved with its efforts, you can check out their website here>>