Livewell Northwest Colorado: Food recovery effort take hold in Yampa Valley | SteamboatToday.com

Livewell Northwest Colorado: Food recovery effort take hold in Yampa Valley

Cameron Hawkins/For Steamboat Today







Opening your refrigerator to find discolored and rancid spinach or bread covered in mold is a sight we have all experienced. But did you know that 40 percent of the food grown in the United States is thrown out?

The issue of food waste doesn't start in our refrigerator. It is complex and occurs along every step of the food chain. This starts at farms that are only paid for the vegetables that fit within size and color specifications and is carried through grocery stores trapped by expiration dates and physical appearance, restaurants' excess food scraps and uneaten food and consumers who throw away leftovers and spoiled food. This seems ludicrous considering 48.8 million Americans are food insecure.

The environmental impact of food waste is just as significant as the ethical principle. Up to 97 percent of this food waste ends up in a landfill, which translates to one of the largest contributors to methane emissions. And like recyclables, when food is landfilled, natural resources (organic matter and nutrients carried in the food) are lost.

However, the tide of wasted food is turning. Globally, communities, organizations, and individuals are taking part to reduce food waste and its implications. In the United States, the USDA and EPA have come together to identify a national food waste reduction goal of 50 percent by 2030.

Locally, Colorado Mountain College is using the food recovery hierarchy to identify its strategy for reducing waste food. Through the Food Recovery Network, implemented by students in 2015, CMC has redistributed 2,650 pounds of food this school year. With the help of student volunteers and the staff at LiftUp, leftover meals from the cafeteria have been frozen and transported for distribution to our community. This is no easy feat, but our community has the potential to be a leader in the food waste movement.

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In 2016, the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council has committed to identifying three restaurants to become Food Recovery Certified. With systems already in place at CMC, the restaurants will have a network of resources with which to connect for training and support. YVSC is also looking for organizations interested in being distribution centers — specifically, groups with the capacity to store trays of prepared food to be divided among the community.

You may be thinking, I am not affiliated with either of these businesses, but I want to get involved. Well, we need volunteers.

From 2 to 3:30 p.m. May 13, YVSC and CMC will host a Food Recovery Kick-Off information session for all. Attendees will hear from Cameron Poole, the student who started the Food Recovery program at CMC, about the work being done at CMC and discuss volunteer opportunities and business partnerships.

If your business or nonprofit is interested in becoming involved with the Food Recovery Network, but you cannot attend the event, contact Sarah Jones at sarah@yvsc.org or 970-871-9299.

Cameron Hawkins writes for Yampa Valley Sustainability Committee and on behalf of the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition.

If you go

What: Food Recovery Kick-Off information session

Where: Colorado Mountain College, SB Room 213

When: 2 to 3:30 p.m. May 13

Who: Restaurants, nonprofits and volunteers interested in hearing more about the food recovery network and how to become involved should attend.

Information: Contact YVSC at 970-871-9299 or email Sarah sarah@yvsc.org