By Elizabeth W. Duda
York County, SC (Nov. 10, 2019) Reducing food waste is a hot topic in York County! So Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) was glad that we and our community partners could talk about food waste and food share programs in this CN2 Today segment (Sep. 18, 2019). We highlighted community, school district and in-home efforts and opportunities. SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) explained food waste and how we can all reduce it – and food insecurity; the York School District 1 (YSD) discussed its successful food share program; YSD/ESMMYC described the Clover School District’s growing food share program; and ESMMYC described our role.
What is food waste, why do we care, and what can we do? Adah Gorton and Amanda Edwards, DHEC, share that food waste is the #1 item thrown away in the U.S. Shockingly, 40% of all food produced in the U.S. is never eaten. And this is while more than 41MM Americans are “food insecure” (don’t have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food). To address these issues, DHEC’s Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling program has resources and ideas for individuals and organizations. Their Don’t Waste Food SC supports every person and organization in SC preventing, donating or composting extra food rather than wasting it.
The YSD (through food services contractor Chartwells K12) is a leader with its food share program now in its fourth year. Latisha Holt, Director of Dining Services, describes “share tables” where students leave uneaten food for classmates. Remaining food goes to the community via Tender Hearts Ministries.
Three Clover School District elementary schools donated about 6,800 pounds of food last year. It went to the Clover Area Assistance Center that serves almost 400 households. Some flowed through to after-school care programs, feeding centers and local nonprofits and churches. This year, the Clover School District rolled out the program to every elementary school and Clover Middle School.
Jessica Cody of the ESMMYC leadership team describes our coalition’s role of bringing partners together, and public attention to food waste and food share efforts. Besides coordinating this interview (!), we hosted guest speakers including Latisha Holt in our general meetings, volunteered at the Fort Mill Community Cafe, and helped a local school district with a grant application and action plan. School districts are at different stages, and we want to support them “where they are.” Community members can contact ESMMYC about getting involved in reducing food waste in your school districts.
Thanks to Renee O’Neil of CN2 Today for bringing awareness to this important issue and local community efforts.
- CN2 Today segment link on how to reduce food waste
- DHEC Don’t Waste Food SC website and Facebook page can help you reduce food waste
- ESMMYC writeup on York School District program guest speaker