Hot Sheet

Denver launching effort to reduce wasted food across city

Author: Adam McCoy - July 3, 2018 - Updated: July 3, 2018

(Photo by AndreyPopov, istockphoto)

Pointing to data that, on average, more than four pounds of food per person is squandered every week in Denver, the city is launching an offensive against food waste in its neighborhoods.

In late 2016 the city announced its Food Vision plan — a big picture, long-term campaign to address food insecurity across Denver. The plan set ambitious goals of reducing the number of food-insecure households by 55 percent and the volume of food waste in residential garbage collection by 57 percent citywide by 2030.

The plan’s initial project, a collaborative effort with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) aimed at reducing food waste in Denver, launched last week.

Through the effort, Denver will launch a public education effort focused on cutting food waste from its largest sources; assist businesses in increasing sustainable practices; encouraging surplus food donations from local businesses; and encouraging and incentivizing organics recycling and composting by residents.

“When food goes to waste, so does everything it takes to get it to our plates — from water to energy and money,” said Elizabeth Balkan, food waste director at NRDC. “The good news is, Denver — and cities nationwide — are uniquely positioned to tackle this problem. In the process, they can make their communities more resilient, economically vibrant and equitable.”

In kicking off its plan, Denver pointed to data that shows up to 40 percent of the U.S. food supply — worth $218 billion — goes uneaten each year. It costs the average family of four $1,800 annually and takes a large toll environmentally through wasted water, energy, agricultural chemicals and labor.

In Denver, one in eight Denverites do not have a reliable supply of food, according to NRDC studies. Among the food wasted (more than four pounds per person on average every week), 76 percent could have been eaten. Additionally, 7.1 million additional meals annually could be donated in Denver beyond current donations.

The city plans to announce new food vision projects in the coming weeks and months.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.