Behind every hotel conference like this one, there's a catering company providing a beautiful buffet. And at the end of day, their refrigerator could be stocked with untouched platters of salads, vegetables and fruit that would be safe to eat because it's been kept cold and hasn't been served to anyone.
Dana Gunders is an expert on food waste and a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council and she spoke at the Environmental Protection Agency's Southwest Food Recovery Summit in Sacramento. Gunders says no matter how good that food is, it's likely to land in the compost or landfill because there aren't enough efficient ways to deliver fresh surplus food to local food banks.
"Our whole emergency food system was built on non-perishable products," explains Gunders. "And so there's a limited amount of cooling capacity and ability to safely handle the fresher, healthier foods right now. So a lot of local governments need to invest more in infrastructure that will help their food rescue system capture more food safely."
Part of Gunders' current work on food waste at NRDC is developing a set of tools to help cities track nutritious surplus food so they can boost food recovery efforts. As those efforts grow, local food charities will need to expand refrigeration and storage capacity to take in, handle and store more perishable food.
Gunders says it's all part of shifting the conversation from food waste to food rescue.
The EPA Food Recovery Summit in Sacramento was sponsored with the California Resource Recovery Association.
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