Increasing Maine Consumer Food Waste Education and Awareness

Location: University of Maine
Sponsor: Solid Waste Diversion Grant Program, Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

The Mitchell Center has brought together a faculty/student food waste team to develop a Maine food waste education and action campaign as a key solution for ending food waste in Maine. The team is led by Susanne Lee, faculty fellow at the Mitchell Center. The overall effort leverages support from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the University of Maine (UMaine), and key Maine food system stakeholders, to enable the team to create a statewide food waste education campaign. The campaign targets Maine residents, communities, schools, organizations and businesses and provides the “why” and “how” to end wasted food and food loss statewide.

UMaine’s strong marketing and communication capabilities increased the campaign’s impact by developing the Food Rescue MAINE (FRM) zero food waste brand with the tagline, “Maine Food – Too Good To Waste”. This integrated food waste brand message generates newspaper, TV, radio, social media, and community coverage to build education and action. Broader Mitchell Center relationships bring additional national food waste data and expertise from ReFED, Center for Eco Technology, and the World Wildlife Fund, to further strengthen the campaign.

Most importantly, key Maine food system stakeholders including the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), Maine Farmland Trust, Maine Dept. of Education School Nutrition, UMaine Cooperative Extension, Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine Feeding Partners (MEMA), Sodexo, Northern Light Health, Hannaford, Sysco, Garbage to Garden, Agricycle, Maine Food Convergence, and our municipal food waste partners – Portland, Waterville, Winslow, Readfield/Wayne/Fayette, South Portland, and Skowhegan, share their time and community resources to help develop and promote food waste education and awareness.

To measure the specific impact of this food waste campaign, the Mitchell Center will continue to partner with Maine DEP to develop an annual food waste tracking and measuring protocol. Insights from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ReFED, and other state Materials Management entities will be utilized in this additional research effort.

Team Leader:

Related Resource: