The U.S. wastes nearly 34 million tons of food each year, according to the EPA. And although restaurants and cafeterias know more about food preparation than most consumers, they throw out up to ten percent of what they buy before it ever reaches a customer’s plate.

Chef's kitchen

To help tackle this problem, the National Restaurant Association joined the Food Waste Reduction Alliance.

ABSHIRE: “By reducing the food waste that’s generated, restaurants can save on their food and operating costs. They can also participate in food donation programs, which help feed people in their communities, and they’re eligible for tax credits, and then finally they’re helping protect the environment.”

Laura Abshire
Laura Abshire

That’s Laura Abshire, director of sustainability for the Restaurant Association. She says while reducing food waste has a lot of benefits, many restaurant owners mistakenly believe that they are not legally allowed to donate prepared food. But not only are they allowed to do so, they’re also protected by the federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.

”Restaurants Click To Tweet

So the Food Waste Reduction Alliance is educating restaurant owners how to reduce food waste, not only through donations, but also by better planning their food purchases. And as restaurants waste less, they save money, feed the hungry, and help the environment.

Reporting credit: Colleen Pellissier/ChavoBart Digital Media.
Restaurant kitchen photo: Copyright protected.

The Series:
Pt 1: Food waste is a global problem (May 30, 2016)
Pt 2: Educating restaurants on how to reduce food waste (May 31, 2016)
Pt 3: Food wasted because it’s not perfect (June 1, 2016)
Pt 4: Rescuing leftover food (June 2, 2016)
Pt 5: What you can do to reduce wasted food (June 3, 2016)

More Resources
National Restaurant Association
Food Waste Reduction Alliance (FWRA): Measuring Food Waste
FWRA Food Waste Facts

Jan O'Brien was assistant editor and website manager at Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. She brought more than three decades of experience in environmental publishing and policy research and more...