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FWRA Briefing to House of Representatives Staff

May 6, 2016

By: Meghan Stasz, Senior Director of Sustainability

Our industry is working to reduce food waste and increase donations of food in this country, and yesterday some of the leaders from the cross-industry Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA) met on Capitol Hill to brief staff for Members of the House of Representatives on this important issue.

Congress has been looking into food waste, with some legislation proposed, and briefings like this are a great way to help educate Congressional staff and increase awareness of issues. FWRA is a partnership between GMA, the Food Marketing Institute, and the National Restaurant Association to address the challenge of food waste in our industry.

Food waste is an important topic because by reducing food waste we benefit the environment, society, and the economy. Wasted food represents wasted natural resources used to grow and transport that food. Also, we know from our friends at the national hunger group Feeding America that 1 in 6 Americans struggles with food insecurity. Finally, whether you are a multi-national business, city, or household, reducing the amount of food you waste reduces costs and everyone likes to save money!

The speakers at the briefing were Michael Hewett from Publix Supermarkets, Jessica Rosen with Yum! Brands (the parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and other well-known fast food chains) and Kent Wilson with General Mills. All three highlighted what their companies are doing to reduce waste in their supply chains and to donate more food. They also discussed some of the on-the-ground complexities of reducing or measuring waste and of donating food to those in need.

Michael from Publix talked to House staff about the company’s efforts to measure and quantify food waste across their more than 1,100 locations around the Southeastern U.S. If you think about how difficult it is to measure your food waste at home, imagine doing that at more than 1,100 stores with over 179,000 employees!

Jessica from Yum! gave staff an overview of their donation program. Yum! works with a group called Food Donation Connection that helps rescue un-served food from many of its restaurants and get it to those in need. She also highlighted many of the reasons that food waste happens in the restaurant section of the supply chain- from logistical complications to lack of infrastructure to regulatory challenges.

Kent from General Mills shared great stories about what the major global manufacturer of brands like Cheerios and Totino’s Pizza are doing in their facilities to reduce food waste in the first place. One of my favorite facts about General Mills is that they take the husks from around oats used to make Cheerios and turn them into energy. One of the plants just outside Minneapolis is generating a lot of its own power just from oat husks!

We all have a role to play to help meet the Obama Administration’s goal of a 50 percent reduction of food waste by 2030. Opportunities like this week’s briefing help inform federal decision makers about all that the food industry is doing to reduce food waste and feed more people. We look forward to continuing to raise awareness on this important issue.

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