With technical support from two nonprofit environmental organizations, Jersey City is set to launch a study to identify sources of significant food waste citywide and to recommend strategies for best redistributing large quantities of unused food to the city’s needy.

Jersey City was selected to participate in the project, which is a joint undertaking of the National Resources Defense Council and the Center for Ecotechnology, in 2020. The NRDC will also provide funding.

Said Stacey Flanagan, director of the Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services, data from the program “will improve our understanding of food waste areas for HHS and DPW (the Department of Public Works) to focus on, as this is a joint issue. Food that is rescued will go to community agencies, and the rest will get composted to significantly reduce waste.”

Food Matters (the NRDC name of the program) provides municipalities with a step-by-step guide for reducing food waste that begins with quantifying the municipality’s level of food waste and ends with tactics for increasing composting and other forms of food recycling. Along the way, cities learn to set waste reduction goals, improve logistics for getting leftover food from donors to redistributors, and reduce barriers to food donations (such as liability concerns), among other strategies, according to the NRDC.

“Additionally, reducing the tons of waste for hauling translates into quantifiable savings for the municipal budget and taxpayers,” said Kimberly Scalcione, Mayor Fulop’s press secretary.

Scalcione also points out that participating foodservice operators will receive “useful tools and practices to reduce their own costs of refrigeration, water, storage, and waste removal.”

The Times asked Scalcione when the program would start, how much money the NRDC was granting the city for it, and whether these funds were expected to cover the program’s costs. She did not reply.

Photo by Engin Akyurt

Deputy Editor Elizabeth Morrill has worked in business, not for profit fundraising and as a freelance copy editor. She holds degrees in American studies and education from Yale and Harvard.