After more than seven successful years of working in over 20 select cities on food waste reduction, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is expanding its Food Matters program across the United States. This next phase of the program will bring on new cities and focus on implementing policies, programs and cross-city networking to reduce food waste.
“With 80% of the U.S. population estimated to live in cities by 2050, these metropolitan areas can unlock significant progress on the nation’s goal to halve food waste by 2030,” noted Madeline Keating, City Strategist and Food Matters Initiative Lead at NRDC. “However, establishing benchmarks and navigating a path forward are major barriers for city representatives to address by themselves. The Food Matters initiative provides direction and a catalyst to build strategies that work best for each city’s unique goals and needs.”
As part of the expansion of the Food Matters initiative, NRDC will partner with cities to provide strategic guidance and expertise in implementing strategies to prevent food from going to waste, rescue surplus food, and recycle food scraps, including but not limited to:
- Estimating baseline food waste generation and food rescue potential
- Assisting with food waste reduction plans, goals, and funding proposals
- Developing food waste prevention messaging and campaigns
- Planning city support for food rescue
- Boosting community composting
- Participating in networking and development opportunities, such as webinars, convenings, and peer-to-peer learning groups
“Wasted food is clearly a climate equity issue. As Cincinnati completes our 2023 Green Cincinnati Plan, we are setting our sights on a goal of 50% food waste diversion from the landfill through a variety of prevention, reuse, and composting efforts,” said Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval. “NRDC has been a key partner in making an ambitious goal like this possible. Participation in the Food Matters Great Lakes Cohort has been a great opportunity to learn and share with peer cities – what is working and what is not. It was through this engagement that we were introduced to the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, where Cincinnati was recently recognized at the global forum for our food waste efforts.”
Food Matters partners have engaged in a suite of strategies designed to address food waste, including reaching consumers through wasted food prevention campaigns, assessing gaps in the food rescue system, establishing community composting facilities, and auditing city facilities for food waste generation information. In each city, lead partners ensure community buy-in and more equitable processes by involving a range of city agencies, local stakeholders, and community members in goal-setting, strategy development, and implementation.
“The Food Matters Initiative allows us to work with local and minority-owned restaurants and food providers to pilot waste reduction solutions,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, whose city is a new participant in the Food Matters initiative. “Not only will we reduce waste and harmful landfill emissions, but these businesses will also cut costs and enhance their customer experience. Lessons learned through our work with NRDC can be applied across the city to support our vision for a sustainable, innovative Phoenix and zero waste by 2050.”