Mayor Barry challenges local restaurants to reduce food waste

Mayor Megan Barry is challenging local restaurants to reduce the amount of food wasted in their kitchens by participating in The Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge for restaurants – a joint project with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Nashville Food Waste Initiative. Mayor Barry is the first mayor in the Southeast to issue such a challenge.

The Challenge was launched at the James Beard Foundation’s Chef Advocacy Training in Nashville on Monday – where 21 well-known local chefs received training, led by national experts, on strategies to reduce restaurant food waste. Participating chefs included Maneet Chauhan, Levon Wallace, Jeremy Barlow, Matt Bolus and Deb Paquette.

“Our local restaurants have helped put Nashville dining on the map, to where we’re now recognized nationwide as a culinary destination city. But we know that too much of that good food is going to waste—and good money along with it,” Barry said.

“Nashville’s restaurants have the creative ingenuity to demonstrate to the rest of the country how to keep more of our world-class dishes on people’s plates and out of the landfill.”

Chefs, owners, and managers from local restaurants of all sizes are encouraged to visit to learn more and sign up for the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge for restaurants.

“From my 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry, I know there’s a lot we can do in our kitchens to save more food, as well as money,” said Seema Prasad, owner of Miel. “No chef wants to see their hard work end up in the trash. This Challenge can potentially be a catalyst for change throughout the city.”

Forty percent of all food in America goes uneaten, with 95 percent of that wasted food ending up in landfills or incinerators, according to NRDC. Restaurants can have a significant impact on combating this problem by preventing food from being wasted in the first place, as well as donating wholesome excess food to nonprofits working to relieve hunger among people in need.

“When we trash food, we also trash everything it took to get it to our plates—land, water, money, labor and love,” said Darby Hoover, senior scientist at NRDC. “Fortunately, small operational changes go a long way toward saving more. Nashville’s food is too good to waste.”

Restaurants participating in the Challenge are asked to: Select and implement practices from a menu of options to prevent food waste, donate food and/or recycle food scraps; and Report on progress at the start and finish of the Challenge.

Cities play a critical role in mitigating America’s food waste. In 2015, NRDC selected Nashville as its pilot city for developing high-impact local policies and on-the-ground actions to address food waste. In partnership with the Mayor’s Livable Nashville Committee, Metro departments, and other local stakeholders, the Nashville Food Waste Initiative is currently developing strategies and practical tools to serve as models for other U.S. cities.