DHEC Joins National Efforts To Discourage Food Waste, Address Food Insecurity

COLUMBIA, S.C. — As Food Waste Prevention Week is celebrated nationally for the first time, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is reminding residents of simple steps they can take at home to limit the negative economic, environmental, and social impacts of wasted food.
Food Waste Prevention Week (April 10-16) aims to inspire cultural change around food waste so that families can save money, reduce the adverse impacts of food waste on the environment, and address hunger. This year marks the first national celebration of Food Waste Prevention Week after its original founding in Florida in 2021.
“A key step in eliminating food waste is educating the public about their role in the process,” said Myra Reece, DHEC Director of Environmental Affairs. “Most food waste occurs at home, so taking the initiative to first realize the amount of food a home tosses into the trash can lead to smart food habits that create a more sustainable future.”
Food is the number one item thrown away by Americans each year, resulting in up to 40% of the nation’s food supply not being consumed and an annual loss of more than $200 billion. Wasted food squanders the land, water, energy, labor, and other resources used to produce, package, and move food from farms to plates.
Food waste occurs at all levels: fields go unharvested, produce is discarded based on appearance, date labels can be confusing, and consumers often buy too much, leaving food to spoil.
To help combat food waste in South Carolina, DHEC created the Don’t Waste Food SC (DWFSC) initiative in 2016. The collaborative outreach campaign brings together ambassadors from the public and private sectors ― including individuals, businesses, and organizations ― that are dedicated to sharing knowledge and working together to reduce food waste in South Carolina.
As Food Waste Prevention Week goes national, DWFSC is focused on spreading the message locally by providing home-based tips to prevent wasted food as well as pointing to resources where residents can get more South Carolina-specific information about food insecurity and how to make an impact.
Steps to reduce food waste include:
• Plan your meals and shop smart. Use what you have at home first. Make a list of what you need and stick to it.
• Prep smart and store smart. Prepare perishable food soon after shopping so it doesn’t have time to spoil. Consider meal prepping. Freeze items. Remember FIFO: first in, first out. Be mindful of storage specifics, especially for produce.
• Learn about date labels. Food doesn’t magically spoil on label dates.
• Love your leftovers. If dining out, take your leftovers home. Be creative to make new meals from extras.
• Donate non-perishable items. One in 10 South Carolinians faces hunger, according to Feeding America. Find a food bank location near you.
To learn more about Food Waste Prevention Week, visit foodwastepreventionweek.com. To learn more about Don’t Waste Food SC, visit scdhec.gov/dwfsc. Follow Don’t Waste Food SC’s handle “@dontwastefoodsc” on Instagram and Facebook for additional information and resources.

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