Mayor issues new food saver challenge

Nashville Mayor David Briley challenged the hospitality industry to reduce waste and help feed the hungry back in 2018.

The Mayor’s Office, Metro Nashville Department of Public Works, and the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Nashville Food Waste Initiative, Nashville Originals, and the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association are challenging local businesses to prevent wasted food, donate surplus food, and recycle their food scraps.

Interested participants can visit the private sector’s Food Saver Challenge companion website to register and for more information about how restaurants, hotels, and other food service businesses can address food waste.

In the inaugural challenge, 55 restaurants committed to taking on several food-saving actions for 30 days. Actions included educating staff and customers on food waste reduction, donating surplus food to nonprofits, donating food scraps for animal consumption, and setting up processes to compost organic waste. A local compost hauler found that their monthly poundage nearly doubled in the challenge time frame.

Now, food service businesses have a chance to participate in the new Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge, which will be ongoing. Participating in the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge will reduce the amount of food sent to Middle Tennessee landfills, while helping to relieve hunger by donating wholesome, edible food to local nonprofits serving over 100,000 food-insecure residents in Davidson County.

Both the Nashville Food Waste Initiative and the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge focus on food waste strategies based on the U.S. EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, which prioritizes wasted food prevention, then food rescue, then food scrap recycling as a strategic approach offering the greatest environmental, social and economic benefits.

Up to 40% of all food in America goes uneaten, with 95% of that wasted food ending up in landfills or incinerators, according to NRDC. In 2015, NRDC selected Nashville as its pilot city for developing high-impact local policies and on-the-ground actions to address food waste.