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Sustainable Management of Food

Food Recovery Challenge (FRC)

The EPA Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) is a voluntary incentive program in which EPA works with organizations and businesses who pledge to set data-driven goals, implement targeted strategies to reduce food waste in their operations, and report results to compete for annual recognition from EPA. Organizations and businesses can join as participants or endorsers and are encouraged to follow the Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize their actions to prevent and divert wasted food.

The Food Recovery Challenge is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program. Sustainable materials management is a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles.

On this page:

Reporting Season Update

The upcoming reporting season for the Food Recovery Challenge will begin in Spring 2020. Existing participants will be notified when they can begin submitting data.

Who Can Join

Organizations and businesses can join the FRC as participants or endorsers. Individuals are not eligible.

  • Participants prevent and divert wasted food in their operations by following the Food Recovery Hierarchy. The Hierarchy recommends actions in the following order by - prevention, donation, anaerobic digestion and/or composting.
  • Endorsers promote sustainable management of food by educating organizations and businesses about the environmental, social and economic benefits of preventing and diverting wasted food. Endorsers also recruit organizations and businesses to join the FRC.

Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers include groups such as grocers, educational institutions, restaurants, faith-based organizations, sports and entertainment venues, and hospitality businesses.

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Benefits of Joining as a Participant

  • Help your community by donating nutritious, excess food to feed hungry people, not landfills.
  • Establish donation programs which may result in potential tax benefits.
  • Gain visibility by having your name listed on the EPA’s website.
  • Receive recognition through awards and social media.
  • Get free technical assistance in the form of webinars, an online database, and resources to help you plan, implement and track your activities.
  • Conserve resources and reduce your environmental footprint.

How to Join as a Participant

1. Sign Up

Go to the SMM Data Management System Exit to register.

Once your account has been activated, select the "Food Recovery Challenge" and complete and sign the participation agreement. See an example of a participation agreement.

2. Set a Baseline

Assess It: Conduct an inventory of your wasted food and determine your baseline. Baseline data provides a starting point for setting goals and tracking progress. We recommend that your baseline data represent the last 12 months of food data. If you need assistance with calculating your baseline, please contact your EPA regional representative.

Submit It: Baseline data must be entered into the SMM Data Management System within 90 days of registering for the Food Recovery Challenge. Food diversion categories may include: wasted food prevention (e.g. source reduction), donation, and/or recycling (e.g. composting and anaerobic digestion). Remember to click the "Completed" button in the database.

3. Set a Goal

Choose Your Actions: Choose the activities your business or organization plans to undertake. Examples are modifying food purchasing, changing food production and handling practices, reducing excessive portion size, donating to those in need, and recycling.

Submit It: Goals must be entered and submitted through the SMM Data Management System Exit within 90 days of registering for the Food Recovery Challenge. Identify a quantitative goal, expressed in tons for the current calendar year. Remember to click the "Completed" button in the database.

4. Take Action

Carry out the activities you have identified to prevent or reduce your wasted food.

5. Track It

Track your progress, report your wasted food prevention or diversion results, and establish new goals every year using the SMM Data Management System Exit. Report your results by the designated deadline each year. Remember to click the "Completed" button in the database.

Have questions? Contact your EPA regional representative or

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Joining as an Endorser

Endorser organizations are a critical component in the effort to prevent and reduce wasted food. The most effective method of tackling wasted food is to learn about the issue and the actions that you can take to prevent it. Endorsers can lead communities in that effort and get recognized for their hard work. Learn more about how you can join the Food Recovery Challenge as an endorser.

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What Organizations and Businesses are FRC Participants and Endorsers?


Note: Emerge Knowledge Design Inc. developed the SMM Data Management System under GSA contract number is GS-35F-0589V. The system is hosted in Re-TRAC Connect.

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