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New York’s City Harvest Wins U.S. Food Waste Challenge Competition

City Harvest rescues excess food using a fleet of 19 refrigerated trucks, three cargo bikes, over 150 full-time employees, and more than 8,000 volunteers. In fiscal year 2015, they will collect 50 million pounds of food, greater than the total amount of food collected in its first 14 years combined. Seventy-five percent of this total will be comprised of nutrient dense foods, including fresh produce, meat and dairy. Photo courtesy of City Harvest.

City Harvest rescues excess food using a fleet of 19 refrigerated trucks, three cargo bikes, over 150 full-time employees, and more than 8,000 volunteers. In fiscal year 2015, they will collect 50 million pounds of food, greater than the total amount of food collected in its first 14 years combined. Seventy-five percent of this total will be comprised of nutrient dense foods, including fresh produce, meat and dairy. Photo courtesy of City Harvest.

Beginning in August, food banks across the country competed to see who could sign up the most food donors to the U.S. Food Waste Challenge.  From among the 200 food banks in the Feeding America network, the champion is City Harvest in New York City, which won by signing up 114 donors to the Challenge.  City Harvest will have a private meeting with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and will be awarded six suite tickets to attend either an NBA or NHL game at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.  The tickets were donated by Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE), owner of the Washington Capitals, Mystics, Wizards, and Verizon Center.  Since 2011, MSE has recovered and donated 7,377 pounds of wholesome unsold food from its events to D.C. Central Kitchen, which translates to approximately 5,600 meals.

“We appreciate City Harvest’s longstanding commitment to food rescue and congratulate them for signing up the most food donors to the U.S. Food Waste Challenge,” said Secretary Vilsack.  “The United States enjoys the most productive and abundant food supply on earth, but too much of this food goes to waste. Organizations like City Harvest get this food to people who need it while reducing the amount of food that ends up in our country’s landfills.”

Thanks to food banks and food rescue organizations and their donors, Feeding America estimates that 2.2 billion pounds of food or 1.9 billion meals were recovered from businesses throughout the food supply chain from farms to grocery stores in 2013-2014.  The donors that helped City Harvest win the competition by signing up for the U.S. Food Waste Challenge included a local bakery, a supermarket, a catering service and a restaurant chain.  City Harvest’s diverse food donors show that many businesses and organizations can have a role in reducing food waste and hunger by recovering and donating unsold, wholesome food from their operations.  Other donors to food banks also include farms, food manufacturers, food distributors, cafeterias, sports stadiums, hotels and schools, so the competing food banks had a lot of potential supporters in this friendly competition.

The U.S. Food Waste Challenge was launched in June 2013 by the USDA and the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) to inspire schools, businesses, non-profits, and local governments to join efforts to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste.  Together, the participants of the challenge are raising awareness and building momentum for a food waste reduction movement in the U.S.  Much like food bank donors, participants to the U.S. Food Waste Challenge come from all over and include elementary schools to baseball teams to movie production companies to grocery stores.

To join the U.S. Food Waste Challenge and be part of the movement, please visit: www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/join.htm.  It takes less than 5 minutes to join and share your story.

Feeding America is able to recover a substantial amount of wholesome food from farm to retailer, but they estimate that there are still 22 billion more pounds that could be recovered from the retail level.

Feeding America is able to recover a substantial amount of wholesome food from farm to retailer, but they estimate that there are still 22 billion more pounds that could be recovered from the retail level.

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