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Zero Food Waste Coalition

Section 6

Other Governmental Action to Address Food Waste

This page contains a summarized version of this toolkit section. Detailed information about model policy components and federal law, state examples, and model legislation is available in the PDF linked above.

This section outlines other governmental policies and actions that states can take to reduce food waste, including food waste efforts in K-12 schools, climate and solid waste action plans, and government grants and support. This section includes:

Model State Policies

  • Food Waste Reduction in K-12 Schools

    Many factors can contribute to food waste in schools, including the timing of lunch, school serving patterns, need for more robust infrastructure, lack of appetizing foods in cafeterias, and apprehension about donation. Some amount of waste is inevitable, as schools may try to expose children to new healthy foods and it sometimes takes multiple exposures for kids to eat new foods. That being said, there are many opportunities to reduce school food waste—requiring measuring and tracking of food waste via waste audits, promoting donation of surplus food in schools via share tables and in the community via food donation, and composting food scraps. States have the ability to incentivize, encourage, fund, or mandate such practices via state-level legislation. A successful school food waste law would:

    • Specify which school foods can be donated and how
    • Include liability protections for food donations
    • Mandate share tables in K-12 schools
    • Mandate that schools donate surplus food and/or compost food scraps
    • Fund education programming and equipment upgrades
    • Require or support food waste audits
  • Climate and Solid Waste Plans

    A climate action plan sets clear targets for addressing climate change and establishes clear pathways to meet those targets. Similarly, solid waste management plans set targets and a framework for achieving overall materials management and waste diversion goals. States can use climate action plans and solid waste management plans to address food waste by including food waste targets and strategies to meet those targets. These plans can best impact food waste when they:

    • Feature specific targets and goals around food waste
    • Stay current and updated
    • Outline concrete recommendations
  • Government Support for Food Waste Reduction

    Beyond legislative action, there are a variety of ways in which state governments can support food waste reduction. State governments can fund programs and infrastructure supporting surplus food recovery, organics recycling, upcycling food into human food products, or recycling food scraps into animal feed. Governments can support recycling efforts by, for example, helping to expand composting capacity and anaerobic digestion collection and processing capacity and assisting food recovery organizations with equipment needs. There is significant space for states to create funding opportunities and provide technical assistance. Best practices for government support include:

    • Creating grants for infrastructure and overhead costs associated with food recovery efforts
    • Creating grants for infrastructure, product development, and market development costs associated with recycling and upcycling food
    • Providing free technical assistance around food waste
    • Recognizing businesses for their efforts
    • Raising awareness via campaigns