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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

EPA Recognizes Food Recovery Efforts

November 27, 2013

On November 25, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lauded the work of 25 mid-Atlantic colleges that have joined its Food Recovery Challenge. The challenge—part of the EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program—encourages colleges, universities, and other organizations to donate and divert as much of their excess food as possible. Organizations that join EPA's challenge find they not only save money but also feed the needy and help protect the environment at the same time.

"The food donations to hunger-relief organizations made by colleges and other institutions can help the one in six Americans who don't know where their next meal is coming from," said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "In addition to feeding the hungry, the food donations go a long way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering disposal costs for their campus. The Food Recovery Challenge is truly a win-win situation."

According to the EPA, the United States generated more than 36 million tons of food waste in 2011, 96 percent of which was incinerated or sent to landfills. In fact, food waste is the #1 material sent to landfills. In a landfill, food decomposes rapidly and becomes a major source of methane—a powerful and harmful greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Food waste generated by local institutions, hospitals, colleges, universities and restaurants is often safe, wholesome food that could feed millions of Americans, according to both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and EPA. The agency works with institutions and hunger-relief organizations to increase food donations and also encourages composting food waste, which creates a valuable soil product that can be used to enhance the quality of soils.

The participating colleges and universities in the mid-Atlantic region include:

  • American University
  • Cabrini College
  • Chatham University
  • Dickenson College
  • Eastern University
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • Howard University
  • James Madison University
  • Juniata College
  • Keystone College
  • Lehigh University
  • Marshall University
  • Mercyhurst University
  • Messiah College
  • Millersville University
  • Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
  • Shippensburg University
  • Towson University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown
  • University of Virginia
  • Ursinus College
  • Valley Forge Christian College
  • West Virginia University
  • Westminster College 


Sally Grans Korsh
Director, Facilities Management and Environmental Policy