Welcome to Faith Fights Food Waste! We’ve compiled some actions for you to share. These ‘Calls to Action’ are easy for you to integrate into your lives. We will continue to add more to this list, so please sign up for the latest updates!
Clergy members: We encourage you and your congregants to choose from a few ‘Calls to Action’ and make a commitment for one month. See what a difference it makes! Each of these actions can have a huge impact, especially when shared with friends, family, and the community.
Call to Action #1
Donate Home Garden Produce (USA only)
What: Donate your surplus garden produce (or even the surplus food from fruit trees around your home) to a nearby food pantry.
How: Go to AmpleHarvest.org to find your nearest food pantry (it just might actually be in your own house of worship!) and find out when to deliver your surplus garden bounty! If you do not have a garden, but know someone who does, you can really help by telling them about AmpleHarvest.org
You can also help other gardeners in your community learn about donating food by posting the flier at AmpleHarvest.org/gardenshop all over your community – especially at garden centers and the bulletin board at your supermarket. We also have fliers you can post near a community garden at AmpleHarvest.org/communitygarden
Lastly, maybe you know of a food pantry in your community that is not yet on AmpleHarvest.org. Please print the flier at AmpleHarvest.org/addpantry and give it to the food pantry manager. You might want to remind them that it is totally free.
Why: Because two problems – food waste and hunger – coexist in every community. Gardeners in America grow 11 billion more pounds of food than they can use, while nearby food pantries almost never have healthy fresh food. You can help fix that. Once you find a pantry at AmpleHarvest.org, you will see which days and times they prefer to receive produce donations. Harvest your excess food just before you take to the food pantry so that it will be super fresh and will benefit everyone as much as possible!
Time: Just the short drive to a nearby food pantry. If you choose to print and post some of the fliers, add another 20 or 30 minutes.
PS… please email a photo of the food you donated, to IShared@AmpleHarvest.org.
Call to Action #2
Fruit and Veggie Storage
What: Learn how to store produce for maximum shelf life! Pick one thing you buy often and learn how to make it go farther!
Why: Some foods last much longer than we think – under the right conditions.
How: Some quick changes:
- Revive wilted celery with a 10-15 minute ice water soak
- Take bananas out of plastic bags
- Store apples in the fridge
- Green peppers last longer than any other color
- Put veggies at eye level in the fridge, not hidden away in drawers
- Go to SaveTheFood.com for lots more information!
- Reference EPA’s Food: Too Good to Waste’s Fruit and Vegetable Storage Guide includes useful tips on which fruits and vegetables stay fresher longer insider or outside the refrigerator.
- Install the Food Keeper app on your phone for quick reference: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/foodkeeper-app
Time: It might take a bit to remember, but once it becomes habit, it’ll be second nature and you’ll see how much farther your money will go!
Call to Action #3
Wasted Food Log
What: Keep a wasted food log for a week.
Why: We don’t realize how much food we throw away. Keeping track for a week helps us to understand how the little bits add up.
How: Keep a small pad in your kitchen near the trash, or use a notepad app on your phone Record what you didn’t eat, why you didn’t consume it, and about how much it cost (or see the example at here (Link 1) if you want to add lots more detail!).
Time: Only a moment or two at the end of each meal prep, or every time you throw away some food. Add a few minutes more at the end of week to review it all.
Food Waste Worksheet: The Get Smart, Take the Challenge tool consists of instructions and worksheets for households to collect and measure how much food they waste over the course of a two to six week challenge. (Link 2)
- Get Smart: Take the Challenge, includes a recording food waste worksheet: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-02/documents/get_smart_ftgtw_2_1_2016_pubnumberadded_508.pdf
Call to Action #4
Learn and get involved!
What: Many different aspects of this problem present many opportunities to learn and get involved.
Why: From our own community or backyard gardens, to the supermarket, restaurants, food courts, and cafeterias, food gets thrown away all along the way. There are many ways to get involved, from signing an online petition, to making the Faith Fights Food Waste pledge, to calling your supermarket.
- Start with this video (Link 1) from global food waste expert Tristram Stuart.
- Check out US food waste expert Jonathan Bloom’s blog. (Link 2)
- Read NRDC Staff Scientist Dana Gunders’ book (Link 3) full of tips for busy folks.
- Learn about the economics of food waste reduction in the USA through a recent initiative at ReFED.com.
- Check out the Ad Council’s SaveTheFood.com which aims to eliminate food waste the same way it tackled littering. They made a short, super-helpful video!
- Follow the Huffington Post’s investigative series (Link 4) on food waste.
- Demand change through petitions! Reach out to your Congressional representatives today.
- Follow ampleharvest.org at www.Twitter.com/AmpleHarvest, www.Facebook.com/AmpleHarvest.org, www.Instagram/AmpleHarvest, http://www.Pinterest.com/AmpleHarvestorg or read our blog at www.AmpleHarvest.org/blog
- Learn about the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration’s Winning on Reducing Food Waste Federal Interagency Strategy (Link 5)
- Learn about the food waste components of the Farm Bill. (Link 6)
Time: Again, the sky’s the limit!
Call to Action #5
Expiration Date Deep Dive
What: Learn about those confusing expiration dates you see on food products.
Why: Did you know that most “expiration” dates are really just suggestions of peak freshness developed by food manufacturers? Did you know that the only (Link 1) federally-mandated expiration date label is for baby formula?
How: Believe it or not, most of the food we buy will not become unsafe on the exact date listed on the bottom of the can or on the back of the box. These dates were actually invented so that manufacturers could communicate to the consumer approximately when the product would be at peak freshness or quality. These dates have nothing to do with food safety.
This topic has become very hot recently: Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic made a short video, (Link 2) and has a ton of resources available here (Link 3). The US Department of Agriculture weighs in here (Link 4). It is such a problem, and it’s such an easy win, that two Congresspersons have even introduced a bill (Link 5)that proposes date labelling standardization! The Food and Drug Administration supports the food industry’s efforts to standardize the use of the term “Best if Used By” on its packaged-food labeling if the date is simply related to optimal quality — not safety. (LINK 6)
Time: The sky is the limit!
Call to Action #6
Share about Food Waste
What: Talk to 4 people about wasted food this month.
How: Here are some examples: Someone who works at the grocery store:
- Where does food go after it comes off the display? (If you’re ready to take this one step further, you can talk to your grocer about selling imperfect produce – learn more at UglyFruitAndVeg.org)
Someone who works at your favorite restaurant:
- Do you have doggie bags for my leftovers?
- How many people take leftovers home?
- Do you donate unsold, prepared food?
A family member or friend:
- Have you seen or heard about this food waste issue?
- At the next holiday/gathering/party, let’s try to (pick one):
- Only buy the amount of food we’ll need
- Provide everyone with Tupperware to take leftovers home
- Try out a recipe that will use up any extra food purchased for event
Another parent at Day Care, school, or any child activity:
- I wonder what they do with leftover food from lunch/snack time.
- If it is still packaged, could it be donated?
Someone who works at your child’s school or Day Care:
- Do you throw away a lot of food?
- Why do you have to do this?
- What would you need to have changed in order to not have to throw away all the food?
Why: Awareness is a big issue – and everyone feels bad about throwing away food. Talking about it with others helps bring awareness. Businesses won’t make change unless their customers demand it.
Time: Some extra conversations while taking care of daily tasks.
Call to Action #7
Smaller Plates and Portion Sizes
What: Serve smaller portion sizes for dinner. Make the same amount of food, of course, but give out smaller portion sizes, and tell your family that everyone should get seconds or thirds if they are still hungry.
Or, try just one meal on smaller plates – you’ll be amazed at how much food is saved! If the plate is smaller, less food fits on it, so again, if your family is still hungry after the first serving, they should get seconds and thirds.
Why: Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, right? And when that happens, we either eat too much, or throw away food for no good reason. These two strategies address that issue, and result in our families eating less food and being healthier. This also means that if less food is put onto plates, more food can go in the fridge for leftovers.
How: This sounds easy, but it may be one of the hardest actions to take on. It’s difficult to change when our behaviors are so ingrained. Don’t stop trying if you forget once or twice or three times!
Time: Will definitely take a moment when preparing a meal to remember smaller portion sizes or to grab those smaller plates. But once it becomes habit, you’ll see what a huge difference it makes!
Call to Action #8
Smart Shopping – Shop Only From a Grocery List + Shop with Meals in Mind
What: Make a quick list of what you need from the store. Vow to stick to it!
Why: We are all familiar with that “refrigerator guilt” we feel upon opening up the fridge and finding three half-eaten bags of carrots and a wilted eggplant rotting in the back.
When we make a list and stick to it, we waste less food. Here’s why: While we’re at the store, we have great ambitions about trying out new recipes and foods. At the store, we completely ignore our extremely busy schedules, our packed work days, and our demanding family commitments. Apparently, we are all “aspirational” shoppers – we see things in the store that look great, and we naturally want to take them home and cook them. But the second we get that eggplant home, life happens, and the eggplant gets pushed to the back of the fridge. How can we stop this (Link 1) ? By simply not buying those items to begin with.
How: Save money! Eliminate the guilt! Don’t buy it to begin with! In the store, just walk on by, head held high, knowing that that vegetable isn’t going to die a slow, lonely death in your fridge. Implement some easy to use strategies at home to reduce food waste – smart shopping, storage, prep and savings. (LINK 2)
Time: None! In fact, this action saves you the time of buying the produce, carrying it to your home, and unloading it into your fridge.
- See Food: Too Good To Waste Implementation Guide and Toolkit documents: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-too-good-waste-implementation-guide-and-toolkit#docs
Bonus Call to Action #9
Starting At Home
What: Reduce food waste at your own house of worship
Why: Many catered events – snacks after a service or major events like weddings can generate a large amount of wasted food.
- Discuss the issue with your kitchen staff to see what they might do to reduce the waste of food. Ideas might include keeping more food in the kitchen until it is needed, offering smaller portions, reminding congregants to take only what they’ll eat, etc. The Save the Food Guestimator (Link 1) is a free calculator to estimate how much food you will need to keep guests full and happy.
- Discuss your concern about food waste with any catering firm that offers food services and ask them to develop a plan to keep food waste to a minimum or eliminate it altogether. Discuss the option of donating prepared, but not served food with caterers after the event.
- If there is prepared, but not served leftover food, consider donating it to a nearby soup kitchen or food pantry (assuming it has been properly stored and handled), and make every effort to deliver it as soon as possible. Food that cannot be donated might be given to a local farmer for feed or even to congregants that have chickens or other small livestock. Contact locations and make arrangements in advance before drop off! Lastly, the unused food can be composted in a garden.
- Encourage congregants to take leftovers home after the event if items cannot be re-served.
- Use your food waste prevention efforts to set an example for the rest of your congregation.
Time: One time planning ahead of events.
Regardless of which calls to action you select for your congregation, please add the below text to them:
Once you pick a Call to Action:
- Make it impactful: It doesn’t matter if you skip one day or week, just try again! We eat every day, so there’s always another chance to make a difference!
- Make it viral. Share with your friends and family under #FaithFightsFoodWaste
- Make it final: Make a commitment to try one for a month. Award yourself a certificate from FaithFightsFoodWaste.org/Award for starting down the journey to less wasted food