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Pingree, Newhouse, Bonamici Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation to Solve School Food Waste

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) along with Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) today reintroduced 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.

Pingree and Newhouse recently relaunched the Food Recovery Caucus, a bipartisan group of members who are committed to reducing food waste nationwide in recognition of the environmental and economic harms of food waste. 

“An estimated 530,000 tons of food is wasted in American schools each year, costing us as much as $1.7 billion and emitting almost 2 million metric tons of greenhouse gases. Rather than ending up in landfills, these meals should be feeding our students,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “The K-12 education system offers a great opportunity to work collaboratively with creative educators, school nutrition professionals, and students to both reduce food waste in schools and build lifelong habits that will reduce food loss and waste. With these grants, schools could purchase new equipment, provide trainings for staff, or create food recovery programs in their cafeterias. I’m proud to introduce this bill alongside Reps. Newhouse and Bonamici to promote innovation and curb the issue of food waste in our nation’s schools.”

“Most Americans are shocked when they discover 40% of the food in this country goes to waste. The School Food Recovery Act can help alleviate this by empowering our schools to lead on food recovery,” said Congressman Dan Newhouse. This bill will give our school boards and administrations the resources they need to educate staff and students on proper sustainability and prevention. I’m proud to partner with Representatives Pingree and Bonamici as we continue to support important reforms that will reduce food loss and ensure our students have access to the healthy food American farmers and ranchers work so hard to provide.”

“Reducing food waste in schools will give students the opportunity to develop responsible habits that can benefit their communities and our planet throughout their lives,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “I’m pleased to introduce the bipartisan School Food Recovery Act with Reps. Pingree and Newhouse so schools will have the support and resources they need to engage in important food waste reduction programs.”

The School Food Recovery Act 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. This funding would support capacity-building and implementation of food waste measurement and reduction programs in schools. 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% of the total cost of the project. 

Earlier this year, World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, ReFED, and the Harvard Food Law Policy Center released a food loss and waste policy plan for Congress and the Biden administration. The ambitious but achievable set of policy recommendations includes an endorsement of the School Food Recovery Act. 

Pingree has long recognized that food waste reduction is a win-win, bringing both environmental and economic benefits. She currently serves as co-chair of the Bipartisan Food Recovery Caucus with Congressman Newhouse.

A list of supportive quotes from stakeholders is available here.





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