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Carter, Benson & Mejia Bill Establishing New Jersey Food Waste Task Force Signed into Law

To meet New Jersey’s goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030, legislation sponsored by the Assembly Democrats Linda Carter, Daniel Benson and Pedro Mejia establishing the New Jersey Food Waste Task Force was signed into law Thursday by Governor Phil Murphy.

“Forty percent of the food produced in the United States ends up uneaten and tossed into the garbage each year,” said Carter (D-Union). “As one in ten residents in New Jersey face food insecurity, more than 400 pounds of food per person is loss or wasted. It’s a shame, and we must figure out actionable steps to prevent and reduce food waste going forward.”

In 2017, New Jersey passed legislation to establish a food waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030. The law requires the Department of Environmental Protection, in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, to develop a plan with public input to accomplish this goal,

The new law (formerly bill (A-4705) takes the next step by creating the New Jersey Food Waste Task Force within the Department of Human Services. The 12-member panel will be responsible for identifying and examining factors that lead to food waste in the State, and identify strategies that may be used to:

  • Prevent food waste;
  • Increase food donations;
  • Provide consumers with education on food storage;
  • Lower unreasonably high cosmetic standards for fruit and vegetables;
  • Cease or significantly reduce rejection of marginally imperfect-looking food;
  • Build Statewide systems to distribute surplus edible food to charities;
  • Eliminate unnecessary State statutes or regulations that contribute to food waste; and
  • Modify “best by” food labels consistent with uniform national standards, to inform consumers the latest possible date food can be safely consumed.

“About 14% of New Jersey households struggle to fight hunger and lack consistent access to food,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Access to affordable food is a self-evident human right, and we must continually find new ways to reduce food waste and ensure that New Jersey residents have enough to eat every day.”

“We need answers,” said Mejia. “How do we reduce food waste effectively and dramatically in this state? A task force with the sole focus of finding ways to prevent food loss will help us meet our goals and become more responsible with food donations.”

The work of the task force will supplement the State’s existing efforts to reduce food waste, including promoting food donation, composting, date labeling and effective inventory management.

The task force is required to submit a report to the Governor and Legislature no later than one year after organization. It will provide its findings and recommendations for appropriate action to reduce food waste in New Jersey. The task force would expire upon submission of its report.

The law passed the Assembly in February by a vote of 76-0.