Abstract for: How Can Food Donation Policies Improve Fresh Produce Rescue and Reduce Waste?

Reducing food waste presents opportunities for increasing food & nutrition security, addressing climate change, and conserving resources. In the United States, while 13.8 million households struggle to get sufficient food, the amount of per capita wasted food doubled between 1974 and 2003. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the major share of all wasted food; this represents a significant loss of nutrients, a misuse of resources such as water and land, and contributes to global warming. Recovery of these nutritious foods and their diversion to human consumption is among the strategies to address both food & nutrition security and wasted food issues. In New York, two “farm policies” and one “waste ban” are intended to divert food away from landfills through food donation. These recent policies lack evaluation to understand how they could work for food & nutrition security and waste reduction purposes. We are building a system dynamic model to analyze policy implications on fresh produce rescue and waste. Our work relies on various data sources, including community partner data, and extends a participatory process in which group model building was used to incorporate stakeholders’ perspectives and expertise.