Bill Aims 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, Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker, Joann Downey, and Clinton Calabrese have introduced legislation to teach consumers strategies for eliminating food waste. The bill cleared the Assembly Human Services committee 6-0 Thursday.
“I cringe when I see food wasted,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “With more than 900,000 people in New Jersey alone facing food insecurity every day, to know that so much goes uneaten is heartbreaking. While many of us dined on sumptuous, traditional Thanksgiving meals and international dishes last week, the sad reality is that this week, many people are hungry.”
The bill (A4707) 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.
“Implementing strategies as simple as utilizing a grocery shopping list can help consumers 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.”
“Another key component of this campaign is encouraging consumers to donate excess food or even compost leftovers,” said Calabrese (D-Bergen and Passaic). “By educating consumers to reduce food waste, we can create direct savings for consumers, while assisting residents who are in need and reducing 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 now awaits further consideration from the Assembly.