A year ago, we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the very first Earth Day. It was a nice moment for us all to catch our collective breath as we struggled to address the challenges hitting the food system from COVID-19. Thankfully, things are different this year. And with vaccine distribution continuing to ramp up – and more and more restaurants and other foodservice businesses finally starting to reopen – we’re feeling hopeful about what lies ahead.
The theme for this year’s Earth Day is “Restore Our Earth,” and it has particular resonance for those of us connected to the food system – after being battered by the pandemic, the food system needs restoring now more than ever. The good news is that it’s already started to happen. Even during the thick of the crisis, we saw food businesses, funders, policymakers, innovators, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and more all working together to get food to the people who need it most. And while we don’t yet have a complete picture of the pandemic’s effect on food waste, we’re optimistic that it will be positive in the long run – our Insights Engine analysis shows that prior to COVID-19, the total amount of food going unsold or uneaten in the U.S. had leveled off, and it actually started to decline on a per capita basis beginning in 2016.
We’re also optimistic that our political leaders will take this opportunity to implement common-sense policies to address food loss and waste throughout the food system. Earlier this month, ReFED was proud to join forces with our friends at the Harvard Food Law & Policy Clinic, Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wildlife Fund to introduce a U.S. Food Loss and Waste Policy Action Plan with five key actions that the Biden Administration and Congress can take to help reach the national goal of reducing food waste by 50% by the year 2030. Read the full plan at the link above – your business or organization can also sign on as a supporter.
So please join us in celebrating Earth Day – and accept our gratitude today and everyday for all that you do to help us create a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient food system.