Outreach and awareness building approaches to reducing food waste

Awareness of the immense volume of wasted foods and associated problems is an important first step to reducing food waste in many countries, and the goal of creating increased awareness via outreach and capacity building is one reason that so much activity in the sector has been underway in the past few years.

Feeding the 5000 launched in London in 2009, and partners with local farmers, NGOs and governments to reclaim wasted foods and host public events where masses of people are provided with free food. Events have been held in partnership with:
• Slow Food and Belgian Food Banks in Brussels (Jan 2014)
• EndFoodWaste.org in Oakland (October 2014)
• "Just Eat It" film makers in Vancouver (May 2015)

"Just Eat It" is a documentary on food waste (http://www.foodwastemovie.com/ ). JUST EAT IT: A FOOD WASTE STORY follows a couple who find it rather easier than expected to survive on discarded foods during a six month period, and was awarded the EFFY 2015 Grand Jury Prize at the Environmental Film Festival at Yale University.

In May 2016, two cities in the USA held Feeding the 5000 events (NYC and Washington DC), ramping up the food waste reduction movement in America. Future events are promoted via their website. http://feedbackglobal.org/events/

WRAP in the UK and NRDC in the USA were among the first to raise the issue of high levels of food waste in 2011, and the SAVE FOOD Initiative was launched in May 2011, with the FAO commissioned report "Global Food Losses and Food Waste" (Gustavsson, 2011).

WRI published its series of working papers on "Creating a sustainable food future" beginning in 2013 (Lipinski et. al. 2013), just a few months before the UN FAO launched their global SAVE FOOD Initiative online community and partnership drive -- more than 700 organizations have joined in to date. The Global Food Loss and Waste Protocol was developed by WRI with stakeholder input during 2015 and was launched in June 2016. It is being promoted now via a new website. http://www.flwprotocol.org

In Germany, www.foodsharing.de and their partners co-ordinate 7,000 people doing food pickups at more than 1,000 businesses across the country. These "food savers" either distribute the food themselves or leave it at designated spots, where it is free to pick up.

The Zero Hunger Challenge includes as one of its main objectives Zero loss or waste of food. "Minimizing food losses during storage and transport, and waste of food by retailers and consumers; empowering consumer choice through appropriate labeling; commitments by producers, retailers and consumers within all nations; achieving progress through financial incentives, collective pledges, locally-relevant technologies and changed behavior" (Zero Hunger Challenge).

During 2015-16 there have been a wave of activities and global, regional and national programs, projects and public outreach and capacity building events:
• Expo Milano 2015 (May 1 - Oct 31, 2015) in Italy was attended by hundreds of thousands of people
• UNEP - Think Eat Save
• EU Consortium "Fusions"
• Global FoodBanking Network (GFN)
• Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition (AAHM)
• Brookings Institution's Ending Rural Hunger project
• National initiatives in UK, Denmark, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, USA, Canada, Portugal, Brazil, South Africa, Thailand
Thai SAVE FOOD Campaign

Many unique approaches to increasing awareness have been developed. The Culinary Institute of America in 2015 introduced the world's first business school dedicated to food entrepreneurship & innovation. Their slogan is: "We develop leaders to transform the business of food."

WastED, a pop-up restaurant in New York City, was launched in March 2015 by Dan Barber, Blue Hill. In an effort to both draw attention to and elevate the possibilities for food waste, the pop-up serves meals made from food scraps, with ingredients like cucumber butts, and typically rejected produce like ugly sweet potatoes and misshapen fruits and vegetables. Twenty renowned guest chefs are helping to develop recipes for the daily specials (WastEd 2015).

Food Tank (www.foodtank.org) has published a list of 21 organizations that are working to reduce food waste around the world. Food Tank: The Food Think Tank featured a series of articles throughout the week of World Environment Day in June 2015 highlighting different initiatives that are helping to prevent food waste in developing and industrialized countries. They have highlighted organizations working in schools, restaurants, businesses, and on farms to make sure all of the labor and natural resources that go into growing, processing, storing, processing and marketing food doesn't go to waste (Food Tank 2015) and interviewed the leaders of some of these organizations (Food Tank 2016).

This blog post is based on a major review article on food loss and waste issues prepared for the Brookings Institution's Ending Rural Hunger Project (https://endingruralhunger.org/report/), and has been updated to include activities being undertaken in 2016. For further information you can read the original review article (Kitinoja, 2016) and cited reports.

This post is part of our "Reclaim" initiative, which showcases solutions to the issue of food waste and engages our readers to take action. You can find all the posts in this initiative, as well as feature pieces, investigative stories and video, here. Follow the initiative on Twitter at #Reclaim. And if you'd like to add your own thoughts to our series, sign up here for a HuffPost blog account.

Citations

Gustavsson, J. et al. 2011. Global Food Losses and Food Waste. Interpack/SAVE FOOD Initiative. http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/234-1961.pdf

Kitinoja, Lisa. 2016. "Innovative Approaches to Food Loss and Waste Issues," Frontier Issues Brief for the Brookings Institution's Ending Rural Hunger project. https://endingruralhunger.org/assets/files/downloads/Frontier_Issues_FLW.pdf

Lipinski, B. et al, 2013. Creating a sustainable food future- reducing food loss and waste. World Resources Institute. Working Paper. http://pdf.wri.org/reducing_food_loss_and_waste.pdf