AMES, Iowa – Getting more food into the hands of consumers is the goal behind a new publication from Iowa State University.
Authored by Iowa State graduate Cassandra Britt (BS 2016 and MS 2019), the publication explores some of the practical and creative ways of reducing food waste while potentially reducing hunger.
About 40% of the food produced in the United States each year is either left to decompose in the field or taken to a landfill, according to the publication, called “Reducing food waste in agricultural settings: A guide for residents of Polk, Story, and surrounding counties”.
As a master’s student in hospitality management, Britt worked as a cook in a retirement home, where she saw first-hand how much food is wasted. It was just one example, but it inspired her to do something to make a difference.
The publication started as a creative component for her degree, and is now available on the Iowa State University Extension Store.
Britt examines topics like the legality of food donations, tax benefits, food donation sites, recipes for cooking and preservation, and a popular phone app called “ChowBank,” which allows those in central Iowa to pair with organizations that can take excess food.
Britt said she focused on central Iowa, but the same ideas can be applied across Iowa, or to any agricultural setting. The publication examines the “Good Samaritan Act” for food donations, which protects food donors from liability, and it also explains the Farm to Food Donation Tax Credit – an Iowa program that allows donors to receive a credit on their income taxes.
The ultimate goal of the project was to put something together that is easy to follow, and that helps connect more food with consumers.
“By working in conjunction with food donation organizations and practicing civic engagement, quality food that would have been sent to a landfill can instead help feed those who are hungry,” Britt writes.
Other regions of Iowa are doing similar projects, according to Courtney Long, food systems program manager with Farm, Food and Enterprise Development at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
In June, 2020, Long and Bre Miller, education extension specialist with Farm, Food and Enterprise Development, co-authored “Linn County Food Rescue Assessment,” a report which outlines the existing food donation structure in that county and provides suggestions for improvement.
For more information, Long can be reached at 515-460-3227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original photo: Mixed produce.