Howard Beach, NY (April 1, 2016) In an effort to fight food waste while supporting groups throughout New York who feed the hungry, the NYS Senate has passed legislation (S.854), co-sponsored by Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., that would establish voluntary state guidelines to enable school districts, colleges and other educational institutions to donate excess, unused and edible meals to pantries and other charitable organizations.
“This bill represents a win, win, win situation,” said Addabbo, a member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “It would help combat hunger among the poor, the elderly and others who often have trouble making ends meet and receiving proper nutrition. It would help food pantries, which rely on donations, to achieve their missions more easily, and it would reduce food waste and its many negative environmental impacts.”
A study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimated that two billion tons of food was wasted in 2013 alone. The National Resources Defense Council has estimated that approximately 25 percent of freshwater in the United States is used to produce wasted food. In addition, reports by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) show that food waste leads to very high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Simply said, this legislation would address two extremely important issues of saving individuals and their families from hunger and malnutrition, and saving our planet from unnecessary and negative environmental degradation,” said Addabbo. “While the proposal is obviously not the complete answer to the serious challenges we face, it will certainly have a positive impact if enacted into law.”
Under the bill, the State Education Department and State Department of Agriculture and Markets would work together to devise voluntary guidelines to encourage the donation of unused food by New York schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations.
Addabbo noted that tremendous amounts of food are prepared by educational institutions on a daily basis by that may not all be eaten and would otherwise simply be thrown out.
“This food waste could be a particular issue on days when bad weather prevents students from coming to school or when other events lead to low attendance,” he said. “Under this proposal, those nutritious prepared meals could end up in food pantries helping the hungry instead of rotting in dumpsters and landfills.”
Having passed the Senate, the legislation is now under consideration by the Assembly Education Committee.