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News Releases from Region 03

Maryland’s Towson University Earns Regional Award for Reducing Food Waste in America

04/28/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Region 3 Press Office (R3press@epa.gov)

(PHILADELPHIA, April 28, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized Towson University in Maryland today with a 2019 Food Recovery Challenge Regional Award. As part of EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, organizations pledge to improve their sustainable food management practices and report their results.

“Food Recovery Challenge participants are leaders in showing how preventing food waste and diverting excess wholesome food to people is an environmental win and a cost-saving business decision,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Their accomplishments serve as excellent examples to other companies, governments, organizations and communities.”  

“It is remarkable how Towson University and its students have embraced the food recovery concept,” said EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “The university began a rigorous expansion of its composting program, and Towson students took an active role in diverting food waste by taking surplus items from campus dining facilities and transporting it to local non-profit organizations.”

Food is a valuable resource. Efforts to reduce food waste and ensure excess food doesn’t go to waste are needed now more than ever. The innovation these businesses are showcasing can serve as examples as the nation works together to address the COVID-19 public health emergency. Over 1,000 businesses, governments and organizations participated in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in 2019. Participants prevented or diverted over 815,000 tons of food from entering landfills or incinerators, saving participants up to $42.3 million in avoided landfill tipping fees.

As a regional winner in EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region, Towson University used innovative best practices to prevent and reduce food waste. This included introducing a “Zero Waste” initiative to reduce food waste stemming from the thousands of annual events held on its campus. These events incorporate compostable service ware, bulk beverages, and right-sized food portions to reduce or eliminate waste.

“With support from student Eco-Reps, and promotion through flagship events like our Environmental Conference, Zero Waste events are now the norm on campus,” said Patricia Watson, the University’s Assistant Director of Sustainability

EPA is recognizing Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers with awards in two categories: Data-driven and Narrative. The data-driven award recipients achieved the highest percent increases in their sector comparing year to year data. Narrative award winners made notable achievements in the areas of source reduction, leadership, innovation, education and outreach and endorsement.

Data-Driven National Award Winners by Sector

* Grocers:  Sprouts Farmers Markets Store #407 (Alhambra, California)
* Colleges and Universities: Keene State College (Keene, New Hampshire)
* K-12 Schools:  Katharine Lee Bates Elementary School (Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts)
* Sports and Entertainment Venues:  Savor…Chicago at McCormick Place - South Building (Chicago, Illinois)
* Hotels, Resorts and Lodging:  MGM Resorts International - Bellagio Hotel and Casino Las Vegas (Las Vegas, Nevada)
* State/Tribal/Local Government: Los Angeles County Department of Public Works – Environmental Programs Division (Los Angeles, California)
* Non-Profit:  ProduceGood (Encinitas, California)
* Food Manufacturing: Signature Breads, Inc. (Chelsea, Massachusetts)
* Restaurants and Food Service Providers: Captain’s Galley Restaurant at Pickwick Landing State Park (Counce, Tennessee)

Narrative National Award Winners

* Source Reduction: Wylie ISD Birmingham Elementary (Wylie, Texas)
* Leadership: Firekeepers Casino Hotel - Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (Battle Creek, Michigan)
* Leadership – Honorable Mention:  Wylie ISD Harrison Intermediate School (Wylie, Texas)
* Innovation:  Windward Zero Waste School Hui (Kailua, Hawaii)
* Education and Outreach: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Los Angeles, California)
* Endorser:  Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (Nashville, Tennessee)

Background:

Food waste is the single largest type of waste thrown away each year in our daily trash. In 2017, more than 40 million tons of food waste was generated. Food waste adversely impacts the economy, our communities and the environment by wasting the resources used to grow and transport food. At the same time, approximately 11 percent of America’s households had difficulty providing enough food for all of their family members in 2018 ref: https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics/).. Hungry people in need would benefit from the redirection of nutritious, wholesome food that would have otherwise been thrown away. The strategies used by Food Recovery Challenge organizations, plus those implemented by individuals, communities and public-private partnerships help to lessen these impacts and bring the United States closer to meeting the national goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030.

Two national award winners this year, MGM Resorts International and Sprouts Farmers Market, are also U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, a group of businesses and organizations who have publicly committed to reduce food loss and waste by 50 percent in their own operations by the year 2030.

For more information on the Food Recovery Challenge national and regional award winners, visit: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-challenge-results-and-award-winners

For more information on the national food loss and waste reduction goal, visit: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/call-action-stakeholders-united-states-food-loss-waste-2030-reduction

For more information on the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, visit: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/united-states-food-loss-and-waste-2030-champions

EPA Mid-Atlantic Region’s mission is to protect human health and the environment for Delaware, District of Columbia Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and seven federally recognized tribes.  Meeting the diverse environmental challenges of a Region with the nation’s largest estuary, rural expanses and major cities and agricultural centers, EPA Mid-Atlantic’s successes are shouldered by the dedication and talents of its employees and the strong relationships it has fostered with partners in its states and communities.  For more information, visit: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-02/documents/r3_digital-final-mid-atlantic-yir-report-2019.pdf

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