Further Dirt on Food Waste

RECEIVED Tue., Feb. 25, 2020

Dear Editor,
    While I compliment the city of Austin and ARR [Austin Resource Recovery] for crafting an Organics Diversion Ordinance that is reducing the amount of organic matter that ends up in the landfill, it’s very sad that no extra effort has been made to keep food still suitable for human consumption from being wasted. The current ordnance only suggests this high-value food be donated and picked up by one of several food recovery/food running nonprofit organizations here in Austin. 
    The current ordinance has no incentives to donate short-dated, imperfect food or surplus food due to overproduction and has no disincentives for sending it to the landfill.
    Every week tens of thousands of pounds of perfectly good food are going to the landfills and compost piles … still. 
    If our City Council would only have a new ordinance crafted that overlays the existing Organics Diversion Ordinance and has any food-related business that creates a significant amount of potential food donation contact a nonprofit like Save the Food, Keep Austin Fed or the Central Texas Food Bank, all this food could go to needy communities.
    The ordinance could read that if they did do this (contact a nonprofit) they could receive some kind of tax break or reward or if they didn’t (if they insisted on continuing to throw away perfectly good food) they would be penalized in some way.
    When this new ordinance is written, then and only then will a significant amount of the food waste and corresponding food insecurity problem in Austin be reduced. 
    25% of Austin’s children live in households that experience food insecurity. 
    Our City Council giving food-related businesses the flexibility to throw away perfectly good food is shameful. We’re better than this, aren’t we?
Allen Schroeder, Founder of Save the Food
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