February 23, 2023

USDA invests in food waste reduction programs

USDA invests in food waste reduction programs

By: Sydney Sheffield

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a $9.4 million investment to reduce food waste. The funding will support 45 cooperative agreements through the Compost and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) cooperative agreements, which are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, and part of USDA’s broad support for urban agriculture through its Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP). The projects will be implemented between 2023 and 2025.

“These Compost and Food Waste Reduction projects play important roles in building resilient, local food systems, including strong food recovery networks and food waste reduction solutions that benefit farmers and communities,” said Terry Cosby, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in a press release. “With an estimated 4% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions attributable to uneaten food, local strategies and tools like these are important climate solutions.”

CFWR cooperative agreements assist local and municipal governments with projects that develop and test strategies for planning and implementing municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans. Implementation activities will increase access to compost for agricultural producers, improve soil quality, and encourages innovative, scalable waste management plans that reduce, and divert food waste from landfills. USDA has been supporting CFWR activities since 2020, contributing to projects across the United States. Farmers, community gardeners, and communities at large have benefitted from the projects through CFRW cooperative agreements.

Projects in 27 states will receive the funding. Some projects include:

·      Gotgweonyo Community is the People's Garden: The project will redirect food and water waste from landfills/sewage to be utilized by Gotgweonyo Farms as organic fertilizer

·      Edmonston, Maryland Achieving Near-Zero Waste and Quality Compost for Underserved Farmers: This project will initiate a food scrap collection pilot project in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The project will strengthen and expand on-farm composting capability in the county and decrease the volume of food scraps in landfills. It will also provide an example of a small-scale and manageable “Compost Outpost” that will produce food-production quality compost

·      The City of East Point Closed Loop Food Waste Drop Off and Finished Compost Return for BIPOC Farmer/Gardener Prosperity Pilot Program: Through this pilot program the City of East Point will establish a community food waste drop-off program for residents to divert food scraps. The food waste will be turned into compost to be used by underserved farmers and gardeners

Learn more about the projects and CFWR here.