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Food Loss and Waste

Importance of Addressing Food Loss and Waste

Food, lost or wasted, occurs when it is rotting in fields, being incinerated, and/or ending up in landfills. The cost of FLW to U.S. farmers, manufacturers, households, and others is approximately $408 billion annually, in addition to other social, environmental, and economic costs[1],[2]. Research indicates FLW contributes to climate change by accounting for nearly 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions2 and places a burden on historically underserved communities. Additionally, 30% calories currently wasted could play a critical role in helping address food and nutrition insecurity. A family of four spends an estimated $1500 each year on food that is wasted[4], the majority through fruits and vegetables which play a critical role in diet-related disease prevention.

NIFA’s IMPACT

NIFA is extensively invested in research, extension, and educational activities to mitigate FLW. NIFA has committed $123.5 million across 527 projects since FY2017, with most projects funded under NIFA’s AFRI flagship competitive program. These grant programs and projects that address FLW align with USDA’s priorities that include addressing the impacts of climate change, promoting economic recovery, advancing food and nutrition security, rebuilding the rural economy, and ensuring racial justice and equity.

KEY PARTNERS

The USDA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) signed a formal agreement in 2018 to reduce Food Loss and Waste (FLW) by 50% by 2030[6], which includes initiatives focused on research and extension. USDA key partners in this work include the Office of the Chief Economist, which houses the USDA Food Loss and Waste Liaison position; the Food and Nutrition Service; and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Office of Urban Agriculture & Innovation Production (OUAIP).

Other NIFA Food Loss and Waste Highlights

The National Center for Home Food Preservation 
Provides current research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation. The Center was established with funding from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (CSREES-USDA) to address food safety concerns for those who practice and teach home food preservation and processing methods.

Master Gardener Program 
Supports and encourages the planting, growing, and harvesting of gardens in order to improve the lives of individuals of all abilities. The Extension Master Gardener program serves as a critical linkage point between the agricultural knowledge of the nation’s Land-grant Institutions and everyday people and their concerns. Master gardeners teach workshops, staff information hotlines, manage demonstration gardens, speak at events, and partner with organizations like 4-H to bring garden and food production skills to broader audiences.

Master Food Preserver Program 
Serves to extend Extension’s education programs in food preservation to adults and youth. The Master Food Preserver serves as a volunteer and as a resource in the community to provide the public with research-based information and training through lectures, discussions and hands-on kitchen lab experiences.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) 
SARE offers farmer-driven, grassroots grants and education programs. Since 1988, SARE grantees have been putting the principles of sustainable agriculture into practice on farms and ranches in every state and island protectorate. 

NIFA Programs Requesting Food Loss and Waste Efforts

 

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