Gov. Mills proclaimed ‘Maine Food Waste Awareness Week’ from Sep. 25-29

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:03 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Experts say 35% of all food produced in Maine is thrown away rather than eaten.

Each Maine family could save over $1,000 if they reduce edible wasted food.

That’s why Gov. Janet Mills proclaimed the week of September 25 through the 29 as Maine Food Waste Awareness Week.

“It’s a big economic problem and that doesn’t even account for the actual fresh water,” said Susanne Lee, Faculty Fellow at Sen. George James Mitchell Sustainability Solutions at UMaine Orono.

“Every time we waste food it also takes water to produce that food, it takes energy to produce that food, it takes labor to produce that food and then when you throw that food in the trash you have to actually pay somebody to throw that food away.”

According to advocates, food waste out of the trash will end up in a landfill and produce dangerous methane gas, which is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at UMaine Orono has partnered with Food Rescue Maine and other organizations across the state to educate businesses, schools, and communities on ending food waste.

“We have a food insecurity rate where 1 out of 10 Americans faces hunger and in Maine it’s actually even more dramatic,” said Lee. “1 out of 8 adults and then 1 out of 5 children faces hunger. It’s a fact that we waste almost 40% of the food that we produce.”

Lee says the key to solving this problem is to educate others whether it’s at home, the workplace or in school.

If Mainers want to get a head-start on cutting down on food waste, starting with fridge organization can help.

Consumers can organize it by separating foods that are soon to expire away from those that have a bit more time.

“There’s many other good uses for food, it has all types of nutrients and energy even when it’s not edible by humans, it’s edible by animals and then those nutrients can go into the soil,” said Lee.

People can search for locations in their community that have composting options or add a Shared Basket at school for breakfast or lunch.

Advocates say to challenge your neighbors to participate for a day or a week and see the results.

“Who doesn’t hate waste in the state of Maine, so do your best not to waste food and we can really solve this problem and reap a lot of rewards in the end,” said Lee.

If you’d like more information on food waste reduction in Maine, you can go to their website.