Though progress has been made in the food waste movement, 38% of food that is produced in the U.S. still goes unsold or uneaten. One of the biggest challenges for organizations working to advance food waste reduction has been accessing funding to develop and scale solutions. In fact, ReFED’s analysis shows that approximately $18 billion is needed annually to deploy solutions that reduce food waste at a meaningful rate. A critical source of funding to reduce food waste comes from federal grants, which is why ReFED has partnered with NRDC on an important new resource – the Federal Grants Database.
Traditionally, private, philanthropic, and public funding have all played a role in developing the food waste sector. Although government funding has been part of this landscape, the last several years have seen an increase in grants given, with 2023 marking a historic year for federal funding – particularly for recycling infrastructure. Because food waste is a geographically distributed issue and addressed on a local level, federal funding often ends up supporting states and municipalities; building out infrastructure and education are natural places for government funding to act.
Three federal agencies – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – have been sources of funding in the U.S., with each covering different parts of the food supply chain. For example, USDA’s Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction Cooperative Agreements specifically fund food waste reduction projects. Over the past three years, this grant program has contributed to more than 75 projects. Additionally, two EPA grant programs, the Solid Waste Infrastructure for Recycling Grants and the Recycling Education and Outreach Grants, provided $44 million to support 33 projects to prevent and recycle wasted food in 2023.
While opportunities for federal funding are available, it can be difficult to keep track of them all. The new Federal Grants Database is a centralized place where you can identify funding that could go toward your food waste reduction goals and projects. Each row provides relevant information on a grant opportunity, including a description, eligibility criteria, and a link to more details on a government website. We hope that connecting organizations with more opportunities will lead to more funding for projects, which can help accelerate food waste reduction in 2024 and beyond.
Access the Federal Grants Database here.
We’re interested in hearing what you think about this new resource. If you have any feedback, please reach out to [email protected].