WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, introduced new legislation aimed at promoting innovation and research around sustainable food practices and food waste reduction in the U.S.
The National Food Waste Reduction Act would create a Food Waste Research Program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will partner with five regional institutions to conduct research, create waste reduction recommendations, and disseminate guidance to the general public.
“Families are going hungry in America while billions of tons of food never sees a kitchen table. Iowa feeds and fuels the world – but it is our responsibility as citizens of the only planet we have to ensure that our food isn’t just going from farm to landfill,” Axne said in a released statement. “Iowa has great researchers at University of Northern Iowa’s Iowa Waste Reduction Center already focused fixing this serious inefficiency in our food supply chain – and I want to see labs and non-profits like them across the country empowered to find the solutions we need to improve food recovery and reduce waste.”
Her legislation would also provide grants to research partners and non-profits working to improve food waste reduction in their communities and increase food recovery.
Last year, the University of Northern Iowa’s Iowa Waste Reduction Center received a USDA Solid Waste Management Grant to decrease food waste discarded in landfills by providing direct, on-site assistance and training for key food waste stakeholders within Iowa and bordering states through the Comprehensive Regional Food Waste Diversion Project.
“We appreciate Congresswoman Axne’s leadership on legislation that will enhance our nation’s strategy for reducing food waste and helping in the fight against food insecurity,” said Andrew Morse, Assistant to the President for Board and Governmental Relations at UNI.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that up to 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is wasted on an annual basis – the single largest category of material that ends up in landfills – despite thousands of families still reporting not having enough food to eat.
One report estimated that 80 billion pounds of food are thrown away on an annual basis in the U.S., amounting to about $1,600 in produce per family wasted.
University of Northern Iowa’s Iowa Waste Reduction Center reported that K-12 students in Iowa tossed over 150,000 pounds of food and beverage waste every school day during breakfast and lunch in the 2018-2019 school year – totaling nearly 30 million pounds of waste for the year.