In New York state, a staggering 3.9 million tons of food waste ends up in landfills every year. Meanwhile, 12.8% of people in the state struggle with food insecurity [source: NYC Food Policy Center]. At CFC, we work to help get this food that would otherwise be wasted to the people who need it. Our interventions at multiple levels of the food system allow us to reduce food waste through five powerful initiatives.
1. Farm Gleans
As a rural food access organization, we work with upwards of 40 local farms on a regular basis. Throughout the growing season, these partner farms can have excess product that they are unable to process and sell in a timely manner (i.e., before the food goes bad). This is where we come in! Farms will call on us to help harvest, wash, and distribute this food. CFC uses our dedicated volunteer network to help get this food from the farm into people’s homes! Learn more about gleaning and how to get involved here.
2. Retail Partner Association (RPA)
Did you know that perfectly good, nutritious food often goes to waste because of minor defects like damaged packaging or sell-by dates? It's a huge shame, but luckily, CFC is here to help! We've partnered up with local retailers like Hannaford in Greenwich NY and other establishments in Wilton, NY to rescue this food before it ends up in landfills. Our skilled team knows just how to safely retrieve and distribute this still-good food to our Food Centers and partner organizations so that it gets into the hands of those who need it most.
3. Regional Food Bank Partnership
CFC also partners with the Regional Food Bank (RFB) of Northeastern New York to help distribute food. RFB is a larger operation that recovers food directly from manufacturers and wholesalers in the case of production flaws, overproduction, discontinuation of a product line, mislabeling, shipping errors, and cosmetic damage. CFC then steps in to distribute it to our pantries and other partner locations.
At CFC, we want to support local businesses in our effort to reduce food waste. That's where our partnership with Adirondack Worm Farm comes in. Since February of 2022, we've teamed up with this innovative organization to compost our food waste. Thanks to this partnership, we've already diverted 12,900 lbs. of food waste from the waste stream! By composting what we can, we're not only reducing waste, but we're also transforming it into a valuable resource that can be used to enrich local soil and support sustainable agriculture.
5. Food Education We have an entire division of CFC dedicated to Food as Medicine that works to improve the health and wellness of our communities. A huge portion of their work is food education, which includes distributing recipes, resources, and tools that enable people to cook foods that they may be unfamiliar with. Not only does this improve diversity of fresh fruits, vegetables, and legumes in people’s diets, but it helps individuals utilize food options that they may otherwise pass over because they don’t know how to process and cook it. This helps make sure that the various foods available can actually be eaten, preventing it from ending up in the landfill!