Food Waste Prevention Campaign Wins State Award

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department, Solid Waste & Recycling (SW&R) Division

Washington County staff Sanne Stienstra and Brian Stafki proudly pose with the award.
At their annual conference in Portland last week, the Association of Oregon Recyclers awarded its Recycler of the Year award in the education and promotion program category to the "Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge." Staff and Master Recycler volunteers from Washington County and the cities of Beaverton and Gresham reached more than 2,500 people at public events and group presentations over the last 14 months as part of a joint campaign to reduce household food waste. Nearly 32 percent pledged to waste less food through the Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge.

"Households can make small shifts in how they shop, prepare and store food to reduce food waste," says Brian Stafki, senior program educator for Washington County Solid Waste & Recycling Program and project manager of the campaign. "The campaign is designed to help people understand why preventing food waste matters, give them an opportunity to take action, provide free tools to make a difference, and offer follow-up support through weekly emails and a Facebook group."

Food makes up 30 percent of household garbage that ends up in a landfill. The average U.S. household throws away 20 percent of all food they purchase. For a family of four, that adds up to nearly $1,500 a year. Natural resources are wasted, too. Twenty-five percent of U.S. freshwater supplies go to producing food that is wasted.

"The Association of Oregon Recyclers felt that the education program used a lot of creativity to promote a new topic we hadn't seen much before in our state," says Amy Roth, AOR resource director. "We were impressed by the overall environmental benefits, level of commitment, innovation, economic benefits and transferability of the program to other parts of the state. We were very impressed by the regional nature of the campaign too, as we know people live, work and play across the Metro region."

"Food waste is a big problem," says Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle. "When we are throwing away food, we are throwing away money, water, energy and more. We took the Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge to our residents last year. There was a really good reception. We are expanding how residents can get the tools and information including giving presentations to groups."

Food waste prevention efforts are built on national momentum created by calls from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency to cut food waste in America in half by 2030 — the nation's first food waste reduction goal. The Natural Resources Defense Council has also teamed up with the Ad Council to run a Smokey-the-Bear-style advertising campaign over the next few years called "Save the Food."

"We are excited to take the work we conducted last year and reach out to more residents this next year, including Latino communities," says Shaunna Sutcliffe-Shadle, residential program coordinator for the City of Gresham. "This is a universal topic that cuts across cultural and language barriers."

The next steps for the Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge campaign are a revamped website, tools in Spanish and new partners, including Clackamas County.

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Media Contact:

Wendy Gordon, Communications Coordinator/PIO