EPA Region 3
Topic: Feds Feed Families
Size: : 4,044k
Date: August 18, 2011
Mike Frankel: Two of the pleasures of working at EPA are serving our mission of protecting public health and the environment, and sharing my work day with colleagues who are truly committed to serving the public. Helping people in need is why EPA's food drives are so strong.
Hi, I'm Mike Frankel and welcome to Environment Matters, our series of podcasts. With us today is Mindi Snoparsky, a hydrogeologist in EPA's mid-Atlantic office in Philadelphia. Mindi organizes our food drives and works with local organizations that distribute the food in the greater Philadelphia area.
Mindi Snoparsky: EPA's food drive in August 2011 is part of a national effort of "Feds Feed Families," where across the country every federal agency is involved in collecting non-perishable food for food banks in their area. This is an effort coming out of the Obama administration to be involved with our communities and help those in need.
Mike Frankel: We asked Mindy about how our everyday environmental protection work relates to helping to feed hungry people in our community.
Mindi Snoparsky: EPA's involvement in Feds Feed Families is a natural outgrowth of our mission as an agency to protect human health and the environment. Human health--obviously public health, nutrition--is an important part of that and so this goes hand in hand, along with sewage treatment, hazardous waste, and things like that. Often times, our employees are out in the field working on environmental issues and we see communities in need. Because of that, we're more aware than the general public, perhaps, of some of these issues with nutrition. So, when a food drive comes to an agency like ours, our employees are happy to give of themselves and help out these communities.
Mike Frankel: Mindi explains why we partner with a local organization to manage and distribute the food we donate.
Mindi Snoparsky: Our local partner in this food drive is Philabundance, the community organization that supports over 500 organizations that deal with food and nutritional issues across the Delaware Valley. They have access to trucks, refrigeration and distribution areas that we would ordinarily not be able to have. So in that we way we're able to have our food picked up and delivered to as fast as possible so food can be delivered as fast as possible to those in need.
Mike Frankel: Bill Clark, executive director of Philabundance, describes both the nutritional and environmental benefits of donating food, especially perishables. Bill participated in a donation ceremony with our regional administrator, Shawn Garvin, and dozens of involved EPA staffers.
Bill Clark: Philabundance is the Delaware Valley's largest hunger relief organization, and right now we're facing a huge challenge to help feed struggling families. In the last two years alone, the need has increased more than 60 percent, and the summer is a particularly hard time for families with children. EPA's Feds Feed Families food drive will provide thousands of meals for those in need, and we're very grateful. But, you know, we've always had a strong relationship with our friends at EPA and, in fact recently became a sustainability partner as we continue to find better ways to keep perishable food out of the waste stream. Fundamentally, we believe that good food should not go to waste when people are going hungry.
Mike Frankel: Thank you, Bill, for joining us today and for the important work you do at Philabundance. And Bill is right. Not every morsel of food gathered can be distributed because it's no longer usable. So in addition to reducing energy and transportation costs, Philabundance is also working with another Sustainability Partner to take that food waste and turn it into nutrient-rich compost and topsoil. This not only reduces disposal costs, but keeps waste from being landfilled. Nationally, reduction of food waste is an area of focus for EPA. In the U.S., food waste is the largest single type of waste generated and disposed of in landfills, accounting for nearly 15 percent of our waste stream. And food disposed of at a landfill quickly rots and becomes a major source of methane, a greenhouse gas. Landfills and the food waste in them account for more than 20 percent of all methane emissions in the U.S.