Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pallone, Booker Team Up With EPA, BJ’s Wholesale Club to Tackle Environmental, Economic Impacts of Food Waste

For Immediate release:

EDISON, NJ – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-06) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) joined U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck to highlight Hunger Action month. They visited a BJ’s Wholesale Club in Edison, New Jersey to announce the store’s participation in the EPA Food Recovery Challenge Program that reduces food waste and hunger while also protecting the environment. They were also joined by BJ’s Wholesale Club’s Doug Schiefelbein, Community Food Bank of New Jersey’s (CFBNJ) Tristan Wallack, and Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey.

 (Cory Booker, Frank Pallone, Judith Enck, Tristan Wallack. Credit:EPA)
“Thirty-one percent of food that is available at supermarkets, restaurants, and in households goes uneaten and ends up in a landfill,” said Congressman Pallone. “Meanwhile, millions of Americans struggle every day to put food on the table and feed their families. The Food Recovery Challenge tackles both of these critical issues by reducing the amount of food that goes unsold and recovering more wholesome unsold food to donate to people who really need it. I commend EPA for organizing this campaign to reduce food waste and BJ’s for participating.”

Participants in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge reduce, donate, and compost as much of their excess food as possible, which saves money, feeds hungry people and helps protect the environment. As part of this new agreement, BJ’s plans to develop new benchmarks to measure progress from its food donation program BJ’s Feeding Communities as well as utilize EPA’s tools to enhance its environmental programs and minimize its environmental footprint.

“A staggering amount of nutritious and edible food is wasted every day, winding up in landfills where it produces methane gas,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA commends BJ’s Wholesale Club for being part of the commitment to feed people and not landfills.”

Fourteen percent of New Jerseyans live in a state of food insecurity, and 50 million Americans live in households that struggle against hunger. Food accounts for the greatest percentage – more than 20 percent - of waste going to landfills in the United States. One way to reduce that volume of waste is by donating edible food that would otherwise be thrown away.

“Hunger is persistent problem in New Jersey and across the nation,” said Senator Booker. “Yet each year Americans waste more than 36 million tons of food - 96 percent of which is thrown into landfills and incinerators. I commend the EPA, BJ’s and all the other participants in the Food Recovery Challenge because the only way we truly tackle complex problems is through public/private partnership. Committing to this challenge isn’t just good for society - it’s good for the bottom line.”

In addition to being the first wholesale club to join the Food Recovery Challenge, BJ’s also recently awarded a grant of $21,000 to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in honor of the company’s 30th anniversary and Hunger Action Month in September. The grant will help the Community Food Bank of New Jersey build capacity through the purchase of additional refrigerators, thermal blankets and other equipment for their partner organizations such as local soup kitchens and food pantries. The new equipment will help their anti-hunger partners store a larger amount of perishable items and distribute more nutritious options to local families struggling with food insecurity in New Jersey.

“At BJ’s Wholesale Club, what is not sold, is shared; we have a vested interest in addressing and helping to solve the very real problems of hunger prevention in our local communities,” said Doug Schiefelbein, general manager of the BJ’s Wholesale Club in Edison, New Jersey. “BJ’s Wholesale Club is proud to join the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge. We look forward to working together with the EPA to help keep food out of landfills and minimize greenhouse gas emissions to better the neighborhoods we serve.”

EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge is based on the fact that wasted food has economic, environmental, and social impacts. Much of this waste is not waste at all, but actually safe, wholesome food that could potentially feed millions of Americans. Excess food, leftovers and scraps that are not fit for consumption and donation can be composted into a nutrient-rich soil supplement. There is also a tremendous waste of energy and natural resources that goes to the growth, processing, transporting and marketing of food, all of which goes to waste when food is thrown away. A full list of the 600 participants can be found at Food Recovery Challenge.

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