The holidays are a time for entertaining and for giving back. USDA’s food loss and waste initiative offers tips on making the most of both sides of the season.
In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that between 30-40% of the food supply is wasted. For the average family, $1,500 is spent on wasted food each year. As families and friends mark the year’s end, there are many ways to keep the feast out of the landfill.
Here are three tips to reduce food loss and waste.
1. Plan for the party. Are you hosting a holiday party for five, ten, or 20 guests? Plan your menu and make a grocery list. Before you hit the supermarket, check your kitchen pantry. Not sure what you can use? Remember, just because a food’s “sell by” date has passed does not mean you have to toss it. Get started with this USDA food product dating fact sheet.
2. Don’t let leftovers languish! How long can you keep leftovers after the party? Find the answer right on your smartphone with the FoodKeeper App. This free, online app created by USDA, Cornell University, and the Food Marketing Institute offers tips on storage times for more than 500 fresh and shelf-stable foods.
3. After you celebrate, donate! Did you know that the U.S. government encourages the donation of food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations for distribution to those in need? There are also Good Samaritan food donation liability protections (PDF, 207 KB) for persons and businesses who donate food to nonprofit organizations. Unopened food from that catered holiday party at work or kitchen pantry at home would make a perfect contribution to a local charity’s holiday offerings. Food donations are eligible for charitable tax deductions when donating to a nonprofit organization.
USDA is a partner in the Winning on Reducing Food Waste initiative, a joint agreement (PDF, 578 KB) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, aimed at reducing food loss and waste through combined and agency-specific action. Other collective efforts include the U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, a group of more than 20 businesses that have made a public commitment to reduce food loss and waste in their own operations in the United States by 50 percent by the year 2030.