Assembly Approves Bill Aiming to Teach Best Practices for Eliminating Food Waste
In response to the disturbing U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) statistic that nearly 30-40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten, a bill introduced by Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker, Joann Downey and Clinton Calabrese to teach consumers strategies for eliminating food waste was approved 77-0-0 Monday by the full Assembly.
“There are more than 90,000 people in New Jersey facing food insecurity daily,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “To know that food goes uneaten, especially when many people in our state are hungry, is inexcusable. We must do better.”
The bill (A-4707) would mandate the Department of Agriculture to develop a food waste public awareness campaign with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the state’s largest anti-hunger and anti-poverty organization. The campaign would educate the general public about the nearly 20 pounds of food the FDA estimates each consumer wastes monthly. According to the FDA, such waste costs the nation $165 billion each year.
“Through this bill, we want to educate consumers and help them realize that by taking steps as simple as using a grocery shopping list, they can reduce food waste,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “By using a list, consumers are less likely to purchase unwanted, unneeded food. This is often the food that is wasted.”
As part of the campaign, consumers would also be educated on proper meat storage as well as the correct meaning of common food shopping terms such as “expiration,” “use by,” “best buy,” and “sell buy.”
“This campaign also encourages consumers to donate excess food and even compost leftovers,” said Calabrese (D-Bergen and Passaic). “By educating consumers to reduce food waste, we can create direct savings for consumers, assist residents in need and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is definitely a win-win initiative.”
This campaign also coincides with federal food elimination objectives, with New Jersey having the specific goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030.
Other bill highlights include developing food waste informational material that would be distributed by social media, television, radio and print media.
The bill was introduced in October. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.