By Jon Cronin, Editor
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) is supporting two new pieces of legislation that will address the use of food waste and excess food to feed the hungry.
In an effort to encourage school districts to donate excess, unused and edible food to New Yorkers in need, Addabbo has co-sponsored legislation that would require them to come up with their own guidelines to do so.
The legislation will go into effect in March 2018 and require the state Education Department and Department of Agriculture and supermarkets to develop voluntary guidelines to move the donation program forward.
“The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that food waste makes up approximately 14 percent of solid municipal waste in the nation each year, which translates into about 34 million tons annually,” said Addabbo, who is a member of the Senate’s Environmental Conservation Committee. “This new law holds great potential for reducing food waste in educational institutions, while lending an important helping hand to individuals, seniors, families and children who face challenges in getting enough to eat.”
Addabbo is also co-sponsoring the “State and Local Government Food Waste Prevention and Diversion Act.” The bill ensures that excess food, food scraps and organic waste would be used first—as appropriate—to supply organizations feeding the hungry, and then to provide animal food.
The food that has been vetted as inedible will be processed to create products such as bio-diesels, soaps and agricultural soil amendments, including compost.
“The reuse of excess food, in addition to addressing heartbreaking hunger issues in our communities, has great benefits for our entire environment,” said Addabbo. “It reduces the amount of organic waste in our landfills, and allows vegetable matter to become valuable compost for farmers and gardeners. It can also help create employment opportunities in the growing ‘green jobs’ sector of our economy.”
He pointed to a 2016 New York City and State Hunger Report by Hunger Free America, which stated that a little less than half of those who reported going hungry live in working households.
Between 2013 and 2015, 424,307 city residents who don’t have enough food were in homes where one person was working. During that same period, approximately 429,000 people experienced hunger.
“When the new legislative session begins in January, I will also work to expand opportunities for more innovative methods of reducing food waste, protecting our environment, and addressing the very serious problem of hunger in our communities,” Addabbo said.