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Pingree, Newhouse, Bonamici Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Prevent Food Waste in Nation’s Schools

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) along with Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) today introduced H.R. 5607, the bipartisan School Food Recovery Act. The bill will create a new program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support schools working on food waste reduction projects.

“One in five kids in Maine doesn’t have enough to eat, while schools and universities generate more than 7 million pounds of food waste every year,” said Pingree. “The school system offers a tremendous opportunity for students to think outside the box, reduce hunger, and cut greenhouse gas emissions. This bill will help ensure school meals feed children, rather than ending up in landfills.”

“Schools have the opportunity to lead on food recovery while ensuring students have sufficient nutrition. We can empower school boards and administrations to educate staff and students on proper sustainability and prevention by measuring and reporting food waste in our schools that could be used to feed more American families. I’m proud to partner with Congresswomen Pingree and Bonamici as we continue to support food recovery efforts and eliminate food waste across the country,” said Congressman Dan Newhouse.

“By reducing food waste, individuals can help mitigate the climate crisis,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Food waste can emit methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, and also squanders the water and other resources that produced it and helped get it to consumers. This common sense bill will provide funding and resources for schools to tackle this important problem. It will help address the climate crisis and empower students to responsibly reduce food waste.”

H.R. 5607 would create a new program at USDA that would provide grants to schools to work on food waste reduction projects. Schools would be eligible if they participate in the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program. Eligible grant activities would include food waste measurement and reporting, prevention, education, and reduction projects, including purchasing equipment and providing training. The federal grants would not exceed 75 percent of the total cost of the project.

A recent WWF report on school food waste found that national food waste in schools could amount to approximately 530,000 tons (excluding milk) per year, costing as much as $1.7 billion. The food wasted by American schools subsequently contributes an estimated 1.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gases into our environment, worsening the climate crisis. If food waste were reduced in schools nationwide by 3%, it is estimated that it would be the equivalent of taking 12,400 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.

Pingree has long recognized that food waste reduction is a win-win, bringing both environmental and economic benefits. Pingree has also introduced HR.3220, the Kids Eat Local Act, a bipartisan bill to support local and regional food systems and encourage healthy meal choices among school-aged children. She currently serves as co-chair of the Bipartisan Food Recovery Caucus with Congressman Newhouse.

A list of supportive quotes from stakeholders is available below:

"At FoodCorps, we’ve seen firsthand how experiential food education can accelerate students' understanding of — and appreciation for —  the food they eat every day. By harnessing the power of experiential education to tackle food waste in schools, this bill will complement FoodCorps’ and our partners’ crucial work and help take on this problem. We applaud Rep. Pingree for her leadership on this issue." –Cecily Upton, Co-Founder, SVP, Chief Strategist, FoodCorps

“This important legislation would help establish cafeterias as classrooms, where students learn about the impact that food waste has on the environment and how they can become leaders to catalyze solutions. The more we can measure and report what’s not getting eaten in our nation’s schools, the more likely we will be able to reduce waste, benefiting both nature and our students.” –Pete Pearson, Senior Director, Food Loss and Waste, World Wildlife Fund.

"Food waste is one of the most pressing challenges of our time and one that is solvable. Registered dietitian nutritionists support efforts to reduce food waste and promote consumption of healthful meals in schools. This legislation will help fund efforts to use cafeterias as classrooms to educate children from a very young age about positive behaviors that include eating healthfully and reducing waste. Teaching a generation of children how to actively support an environmentally sustainable lifestyle is a big step in addressing waste throughout the country's entire food supply." – Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President Terri J. Raymond.

“Addressing food waste in schools presents a huge opportunity—it can help reduce overall waste in more than 100,000 schools and establish good practices for more than 30 million kids that they will take with them throughout their lives. Schools across the country are hotspots for innovations and are eager to tackle this important issue. These grants can offer much needed support.” –Elizabeth Balkan, Director of Food Waste, Natural Resources Defense Council

“Reducing food waste can increase efficiency, save money, serve people, and promote better environmental outcomes. The rate of food waste at schools mirrors the rate of food waste by consumers, which is one of key places in the food system where food is wasted in the U.S. This legislation rightly targets school as one of the most effective leverage points to both prevent waste and educate students about the importance of viewing food as a vital resource, and the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic offers its enthusiastic support for this program to provide funding and support to schools to raise awareness and innovate to reduce waste.” –Emily Broad Leib, Director, Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic

“The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation is passionate about helping create communities free of hunger and waste. We are glad to see legislative proposals supporting grants to help educate students about responsible food practices to prevent food waste and keep food out of landfills.” –Sunny Reelhorn Parr, Executive Director, The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation



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