October 26, 2023

Interpretive Summary: USDA invests in programs to reduce food waste

USDA invests in programs to reduce food waste

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced funding to expand efforts to prevent and reduce food loss and waste. The investment, funded under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), is part of a joint agency initiative between USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist (OCE). According to the USDA, over one-third of all available food goes uneaten through loss or waste, in the United States. 

“USDA NIFA is extensively engaged in research, extension, and educational activities to mitigate food loss and waste,” said Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “Several NIFA grant programs focusing on this issue align with USDA’s cross-cutting priorities to address the impacts of climate change, ensure food and nutrition security, strengthen rural economies, and ensure racial justice and equity.”

The funding will support the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program (CFPCGP) to reduce food loss and waste; get surplus wholesome food to individuals; and develop linkages between food producers, providers, and food recovery organizations. The goal of the CFPCGP is to bring together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system and to create an understanding of national food security trends and how they might improve local food systems. There are three types of CFPCGP, which include Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA), Planning Projects (PP), and Community Food Projects (CFP). 

“The programs supported by this funding are cornerstones in NIFA’s agriculture, food safety, and nutrition portfolio,” said NIFA Director Dr. Manjit K. Misra. “This funding will increase engagement around nutritional health from the classroom to the community, with an emphasis on reducing food loss and waste.”

Examples of CFPCGP funded projects include:

  • Farming Hope’s Community Food Hub and Apprenticeship Program 
  • Food and Nutrition Security Through Collaboration and Infrastructure 
  • Oko Farms Community Food Project 

See the full list of funded projects here

The funds will also support NIFA’s Food and Agriculture Service-Learning Program (FASLP) grants for food loss and waste reduction on school grounds to engage in and scale up efforts that increase capacity for students to learn how to prevent food waste, change the school environment, and use cafeterias and other parts of school grounds as classrooms. FASLP projects are intended to increase knowledge of agriculture and improve child nutrition. The three awardees of the FASLP grants are The House Tuscaloosa, a non-profit Literacy Center, The New Haven Ecology Project Inc., and Yellow Farmhouse Education Center Inc. The remaining funds from this announcement will support forthcoming food loss and waste efforts in collaboration with the National 4-H Council and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

“This additional investment will have multiple, positive outcomes,” said USDA Food Loss and Waste Liaison Jean Buzby. “Grants supported by this investment will reduce the amount of excess food going to waste and help make wholesome and nutritious foods available to those who need it most. Now that’s a win-win.”