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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched a new eco-friendly initiative for the country’s youth: Ace the Waste!
According to the USDA, this nationwide competition aims to encourage students to come up with creative solutions to reduce food loss and waste in the U.S.
The contest will be open to students aged 11-18, who can participate by submitting proposals on reducing food loss and waste anywhere along the supply chain, from the farm to the dinner table and beyond, says the department..
Topic ideas for the proposal could involve preventing food waste by prolonging the storage life of food for example; recovering excess food to feed people; recycling food scraps to keep them out of landfills, including through the creation of animal feed, compost, or energy; or raising awareness about food waste, contest organizers explain.
Submissions may either be 1-2 page proposals or 1-2 minute videos, which will be judged on “impact potential; originality and creativity; clarity of expression; and adherence/appropriateness to theme,” notes the USDA.
Judges will include representatives from the USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
One winner will be selected from each of two age categories – the first including ages 11-14 and the latter including ages 15-18.
The winner of the challenge will be honored with recognition on USDA’s social media accounts and website, receive a certificate of appreciation, and will have the opportunity to discuss their proposals with USDA leadership, says the department.
It adds that the environmentally friendly competition was created in support of the government’s existing Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative.
This campaign, collaboratively run by the country’s Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and USDA, reportedly aims to reduce food loss and waste in the country by 50% by 2030.
Achieving this could have a huge impact as more than 30% of food in the U.S., equal to 133 billion pounds, is currently lost or wasted each year, making it the largest type of waste in landfills.
The agencies point to the food loss and waste actions they’re taking to achieve this goal, such as education and outreach, research, community investments, voluntary programs, public-private partnerships, event participation, and policy discussion on the impacts and importance of reducing food loss and waste.
For those interested in learning more, the USDA suggests joining the conversation by following the #NoWastedFood hashtag on social media platforms.