- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue hosted a food waste roundtable discussion on Tuesday at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to raise awareness of food waste and brainstorm solutions.
- "USDA remains committed to helping reduce food waste, and we are excited to work with all stakeholders from farm to fork to further elevate this effort and fulfill our motto, to 'Do right and feed everyone,'" Perdue said in a statement.
- Participants of the roundtable included Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-ME; Rep. David Young, R-IA; Haley Swartz of the National Consumers League; Regina Northouse of the Food Recovery Network; Katie Sandson of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic; Matt Knott of Feeding America; Jon Hixson of YUM! Brands; Jessica Montoya of Sodexo; Kyle Waide of the Atlanta Community Food Bank; Brett Reinford of Reinford Farms; Mace Thornton of the American Farm Bureau Federation; Ricky Ashenfelter of Spoiler Alert; and Kai Robertson of the World Resources Institute.
Reps. Pingree and Young have been very active in the fight against food waste, having recently launched the bipartisan House Food Waste Caucus to establish strategies for food waste reduction. Pingree is also responsible for introducing the Food Recovery Act in 2017, though that measure has yet to pass the House.
The attendees of the roundtable included representatives from the federal level, as well as folks from the private sector, nonprofit organizations, retail and academia. Due to the broad impact food waste has on U.S. consumers, industries and the environment, it is important these stakeholders represent a variety of groups to help develop solutions.
While consumers are responsible for wasting the most food along the supply chain — nearly 90 billion pounds annually — the USDA has a particular focus on food waste at the farmer level. A recently-drafted 2018 Farm Bill has been touted as a way to introduce national food waste policy. However, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has criticized the bill, saying more could have been outlined to protect food businesses that donate to those in need.
As Waste Dive previously reported, some of the most tangible results from a national policy would involve regulatory updates, including expanding liability protections under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Donation Act and clarifying date label language. Recent state and local changes have helped create momentum, but that could be accelerated by a uniform national approach.