TRENTON, NJ - Two bills sponsored by Sen. Diane Allen (R-Burlington) and Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Mercer, Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon) aimed at reducing waste are now law after they were signed by Gov. Chris Christie.
“Cutting back on waste at our schools and other institutions is a crucial part of getting more food to people who need it,” Allen said. “Every day, so much food is just tossed out. That can’t be acceptable in a state where so many still struggle with food insecurity.”
The first measure provides for the establishment of voluntary guidelines to encourage school districts and institutions to donate excess food to local food assistance programs. The guidelines will provide information about what kind of food schools can donate and how to incorporate lessens about the need for food assistance programs into their curriculum.
The second bill is similar but focuses on providing information about how to reduce, recover and recycle food waste in schools.
In addition to feeding hungry families, the bills also look to tackle some of the environmental issues related to food waste. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), unwanted and discarded food squanders resources, including water, land, energy, labor, and capital. When food waste is dumped in a landfill, it rots and creates methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas.
“We have an opportunity to teach kids from a young age about ways to cut back on food waste so they can help feed the hungry and protect the environment,” Bateman said. “If they can learn that early on it will just be second nature to them. Once they understand where food comes from and how badly some people need it, they’ll know better than to just let good food go to waste.”