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Food Waste Solution Summit to Tackle Regional Food Waste Crisis

From Asheville Buncombe Food Policy:

A coordinated effort to improve food waste reduction is underway.  

The Food Waste Solutions Summit is a regional gathering to disrupt food waste issues facing our communities, expand our networks, and inspire dynamic solutions. This second summit, to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 14 at The Reuter Center on the UNC Asheville campus builds on the momentum of the inaugural 2017 event. 

This year’s event will bring together local businesses, organizations, and university leaders to expand cross-sector conversations and deepen collaborations that have emerged over the past two years.  The 2017 event attracted over 150 attendees from dozens of community organizations, businesses and government agencies. That event launched a collaborative network in and around Buncombe County to address food waste recovery issues including:

  • Support for edible food waste collection and redistribution
  • Increased landfill diversion tactics
  • Innovative enterprise development 
  • Development of community and municipal level compost initiatives 

“We’re thrilled to see the energy and commitment coming from businesses, organizations, individuals and government leadership on food waste solutions,” said Kiera Bulan, Food Waste Solutions Summit and Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council Coordinator.  “This summit is the work of local thought leaders and brings in special guests from the region to inspire innovative solutions and partnerships.”  

The 2019 summit welcomes Barbara Alfano of the Southeast regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Jonathan Bloom, author of the book American Wasteland and creator of the web site Wasted Food, and local innovators, business owners, and organizations.

To register and for more information visit the Food Waste Solutions Summit webpage: abfoodpolicy.org/food-waste-solutions-summit-2/

Context on Food Waste Crisis facing our communities:

From the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “EPA estimated that in 2015 in the United States, more food reached landfills and combustion facilities than any other single material in our everyday trash, at 22 percent of the amount landfilled and at 22 percent of the amount combusted with energy recovery. Reducing food waste will help the United States address climate change, as 20 percent of total U.S. methane emissions come from landfills. By keeping wholesome and nutritious food in our communities and out of our landfills, we can help address the 42 million Americans that live in food insecure households.

On September 16, 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and EPA announced the first ever domestic goal to reduce food loss and waste by half by the year 2030. By taking action on the U.S. 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction goal (2030 FLW reduction goal), the United States can help feed the hungry, save money for families and businesses and protect the environment. Led by USDA and EPA, the federal government is seeking to work with communities, organizations and businesses along with our partners in state, tribal and local government to reduce food loss and waste by 50 percent over the next 15 years.”

63 million tons of food is wasted in the US each year. A 2012 NC Department of Environmental Quality Study estimated that 27,809 tons of municipal solid waste, ~5 pounds per county resident per week is sent directly to the landfill. 

A study recently published by Savethefood.com noted that a family of four typically spends $1,500/year on food they don’t eat. These discrepancies can be addressed through community education and infrastructure that supports our communities, industry leaders, and municipalities in reducing, reusing, and recycling food waste.

A coordinated effort to improve food waste reduction in Buncombe County stands to benefit all 250,000+ residents of Buncombe County.  Our county food insecurity rate is 12.7%. That’s over 30,000 neighbors and friends suffering from a lack of adequate, nutritious, reliable food. This is a staggering statistic in the face of the over 27,000 tons of edible food waste that is clogging our landfill each year. 

The 2019 Food Waste Solutions Summit is presented in partnership with The City of Asheville through their Food Policy Action Plan work & Buncombe County through their Strategic Partnership fund.

Event sponsors:

Advanced Composting Technologies, Button Hospitality Group, Food Lion, Green Sage Cafe, NC Composting Council, The Omni Grove Park Inn, UNC Asheville Dining Services, UNC Asheville Office of Sustainability, Walmart

Event co-hosts & lead organizers:

Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council, Bountiful Cities/FEAST, Bounty & Soul, City of Asheville Office of Sustainability, Food Connection, Henderson County Environmental Programs , MANNA Food Bank, Sage Nutrition, UNC Asheville Dining Services, UNC Asheville , Warren Wilson College