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HFFA In The NEWS

Public Health Madison & Dane County: How We’re Partnering to Reduce Food Waste

“Here in Dane County, around 7% of households are food insecure, meaning they have limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Access to safe and nutritious food is essential for both individual and population health.”

See the article here: https://publichealthmdc.com/blog/2024-01-11/how-were-partnering-to-reduce-food-waste 

Republished with credit to Public Health Madison & Dane County.


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This is the final installment in our series of blog posts about food waste.

Food waste is a major issue in Dane County. With wasted food making up about 34% of the waste in our landfill, we need to shift our mindset on what we do with food we don’t use.

Turning wasted food into opportunities

Here in Dane County, around 7% of households are food insecure, meaning they have limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Access to safe and nutritious food is essential for both individual and population health. As part of our work around food security, we help coordinate the Madison Food Policy Council. For years, the Food Council has explored ways that our community can reduce food waste and increase food security. Here are some of the things the Food Council has been working on recently:

  • Working with Madison Metropolitan School District to expand their waste reduction efforts in school meals
  • Supporting emergency food partners to expand donation, gleaning, storage, and distribution efforts of donated food
  • Supporting FEED Kitchens and Healthy Food For All, which collects and repackages excess cafeteria food from large businesses so that it can be shared with families in need
  • Strengthening the connections among food waste partners needed to manage food recovery and collection operations

Sharing information and providing education

Our sanitarians, who inspect all the licensed food establishments in Dane County, regularly talk with businesses about handling food safely to prevent foodborne illness and what they can do to reduce food waste.

As part of this they share some amazing resources that partners have created to help people understand why food waste is a problem and what to do about it:

  • Posters from City of Madison Streets and the Office of Sustainability, explaining how to plan, use, create, and scrap to reduce food waste.
  • Magnets developed by the City of Madison that detail how to donate food to area pantries, convenient for placing on walk-in coolers and appliances.
  • The Food Waste and Reduction Guide for Madison and Dane County, developed by Public Health, UW-Extension Dane County, and UW-Madison students, which provides information about Good Samaritan laws, food safety, and tips for addressing food waste.

Reducing food waste for the win!

Wasting food hurts our wallets, economy, and environment, and wastes opportunities for those experiencing food insecurity to have food to eat. With our landfill reaching capacity soon, it’s time for all of us to change our behavior. Steps to take include planning meals, using the food you have and storing it properly, getting creative with food scraps, and composting. It can protect families in need, your bank account, and our environment. A total win-win!

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