USDA Food Loss and Waste Newsletter
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International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste
The United Nations General Assembly Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has designated September 29 as the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste. First launched in 2019, the day is a call to action for both the public and private sectors to prioritize actions and innovations to reduce food loss and waste. In observance of the occasion, USDA has released several resources to help consumers reduce food waste at home. New resources include a blog on the September 29 observance, new USDA videos on planning ahead and serving smart, a fact sheet on composting food waste, a USDA radio story and social media posts on USDA’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@USDAgov) accounts. Learn more about steps to reduce food loss and waste at the FAO website.
USDA Takes Significant Steps to Build More Sustainable, Resilient and Inclusive Food Systems
At the United Nations Food Systems Summit last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture highlighted $5 billion in planned investments and several steps it has taken to advance the goals of ending hunger and malnutrition and building more sustainable, resilient and inclusive food systems. These efforts are guided by USDA’s deep commitment to science-based, data-driven decision-making and innovative solutions, and the recognition that trade and well-functioning markets at the local, regional and international levels bolster food security and sustainable food systems. “We must use the power of ingenuity to improve on food systems so they provide safe, nutritious, affordable and accessible food for all, while conserving natural resources and combating the climate crisis,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The United States, led by USDA, is also supporting the global Food is Never Waste Coalition, and reaffirming its commitment to reducing food loss and waste domestically. Read the full press release.
USDA Establishes Dairy Donation Program, Part of Continuing USDA Pandemic Assistance
In August, USDA announced the establishment of a $400 million Dairy Donation Program (DDP). The DDP, established by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in accordance with the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, aims to facilitate timely dairy product donations while reducing food waste. Under the DDP, eligible dairy organizations will partner with non-profit feeding organizations that distribute food to individuals and families in need. Those partnerships may apply for and receive reimbursements to cover some expenses related to eligible dairy product donations. Read the full press release.
EPA Publishes State of the Science Reports on Emerging Issues in Food Waste Management
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published two state of the science reports about contamination in food waste streams: Emerging Issues in Food Waste Management: Plastic Contamination  and Emerging Issues in Food Waste Management: Persistent Chemicals . The reports study the effects of this contamination on composting and anaerobic digestion and the potential risks to human health and the environment of applying soil amendments (compost or digestate) made from food waste streams to land. Learn more on EPA’s food waste research webpage.
Environmental Law Institute: New Toolkit and Procurement Policy for Cities
Towns and cities are on the front lines when it comes to addressing food waste and climate change. The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) released a new toolkit to help incorporate food waste measures into municipal climate action plans. On a related note, ELI’s Food Waste Initiative recently worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (NRDC) to create a Model Compost Procurement Policy to help municipalities encourage or require use of compost products. As with the toolkit, the policy is designed to be adaptable for individual municipalities.
Funding Opportunities

USDA Funding for Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program
Application Deadline: October 12, 2021

USDA’s Rural Development (RD) announces up to 350 million in funding through the Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program under Track One: Recovery Grants. RD is seeking applications of projects that support facilities, equipment, and operating expenses associated with food banks and food distribution facilities, among other categories. Individual projects could range from $25,000 - $1 million. Some of these projects could reduce food waste, such as providing cold storage facilities and equipment for food banks. To apply contact your local Rural Development office.

Application deadline: October 7, 2021

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking applications for projects from states, Tribes, territories, and nonprofit organizations to divert food waste from landfills by expanding anaerobic digester capacity in the United States. EPA anticipates awarding up to $2 million. Individual projects could be in the range of $50,000-$200,000 for the funding period of two years. Additional information is available on under “EPA-OLEM-ORCR-21-02.”