The National Restaurant Association has pledged the foodservice industry’s support for a new national initiative to cut food waste.
An alliance formed by the Association and two other food industry groups announced an agreement yesterday with three departments of the U.S. government to reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfills. A key part of the initiative calls for deflecting discarded food fit for human consumption to the needy.
Other components include matching food production more closely with demand to reduce waste and finding other purposes for food that has to be discarded.
The means include educating constituents of the participating trade groups on practices that reduce waste, and easing the process of donating food to those in need.
The restaurant association's co-founders of the Food Waste Reduction Alliance are two groups serving the retail food industry: the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The group now includes a number of restaurant operators, including Chick-fil-A, Darden Restaurants, White Castle, The Cheesecake Factory and Yum Brands.
Yesterday, the Alliance announced that it had signed a letter of intent to collaborate on waste-reduction efforts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The agreement will likely add topspin to the efforts of individual restaurants and other foodservice facilities to reduce waste for environmental, humanitarian and business reasons. The restaurant industry in particular has been struggling with an erosion of customer traffic. Reducing food waste has grown in importance as operators try to keep a tighter check on food costs, in part by cutting how much food ends up in garbage bins.
Estimates hold that about 36% of the nation’s food supply ends up being discarded. In many instances, the food is edible yet nonetheless discarded because too much was prepared or the raw ingredients were unsightly.
“We look forward to working with our partners to share best practices on food waste reduction and, with greater clarity on liability protections for food donation, make it easier for owners and operators to make food donations in their communities,” Dawn Sweeney, CEO of the National Restaurant Association, said in a statement. “By reducing food waste, we can serve those in need today and set the table for success tomorrow.”