Families in the United States lose $1,500 to uneaten food annually, or approximately 1,116 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As we enter the holiday season, those numbers may increase as feasts and gatherings become more frequent. Although food waste may be caused by a variety of reasons, it’s common for families to miscalculate food preparations that leads to a surplus of leftovers.
Approximately 175 million pounds of turkey, nearly 30 million pounds of vegetables and 40 million of mashed potatoes, goes to waste along with other traditional holiday fixings according to the The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics saw the rise in stock items like meat, eggs and milk among other items typical in shopping lists. The holidays are also a time when food insecurity is pronounced the most.
The USDA says nearly 14 million families nationwide were food insecure at some point in the last year. The cost of groceries have spiked this year due to the pandemic, marking it one of the largest increases in the past two decades.
As large volumes of food are poured into landfills, they become contributing factors to methane production, which is a contributor to global warming. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1383, known as the Short Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Bill, into law in September 2017 establishing a statewide methane emissions reduction target to reduce emissions of short lived climate pollutants (SLCP) which aligns with Chula Vista’s Waste Reduction Strategic Plan and Climate Action Plan.
According to a Sept.14 City Council Staff Report, SB 1383 will help to reduce the amount of organic waste Chula Vista residents and businesses send to the landfill. A 2015 Waste Characterization Study found almost 75 percent of Chula Vista’s waste stream is compostable and nearly twenty nine percent (29%) of this waste stream is food waste.
The city recently opened its first solar powered compost facility this year that will help communities meet the requirements of a new state law, SB 1383, mandating diversion of organic food and yard waste from landfills beginning Jan.1, 2022. As compliance to proper waste practices is required per SB 138, educational campaigns and outreach was launched to residents, businesses, state agencies and local educational facilities instructing modes of participation and the acceptable guidelines.
There are other ways residents may prevent food waste other than being creative with holiday leftovers. Planning for just the right amount for upcoming events and holidays like Christmas will reduce food waste, in addition to sharing with neighbors or donating healthy non-perishable food items to local food banks.