Syracuse University and the Rochester Institute of Technology Partner to Reduce Wasted Food in New York State

View of campus from Crouse Hinds Hall during the first week of fall.

Syracuse University’s Center for Sustainable Community Solutions (CSCS) and the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I) at the Rochester Institute of Technology are partnering on a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assist communities and stakeholders in New York State with reducing the amount of edible food that goes to waste. 

The USDA estimates that approximately 35 percent of food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten, which according to the nonprofit Rethink Food Waste through Economics and Date (ReFED), incurs a nationwide annual cost of more than $400 billion. Wasted food is also a large contributor to global climate change and wastes significant amounts of freshwater, energy, and other agricultural inputs. Perhaps most egregiously, the U.S. is wasting more than one-third of its food supply while Feeding America estimates that 1 in 9 Americans face hunger.  

To help mitigate these issues, CSCS and NYSP2I are collaborating to develop a series of workshops, guidance materials, and technical assistance opportunities for New York State community leaders, with a focus on rural areas. These community leaders and other stakeholders will receive guidance, training, and support for the creation of local sustainable organics management plans. Some aspects of the plans will include quantifying and characterizing local food loss, identifying opportunities for food loss reduction, establishing networks for edible food rescue, creating systems for food scraps collection and processing (e.g., composting), and more.

“We are thrilled to team up with NYSP2I to complement each other’s experience and knowledge in reducing wasted food,” says CSCS Assistant Director, Melissa Young. “Our teams will work with communities to develop solutions for getting more edible food to hungry people and diverting more organic materials to be recycled into valuable soil amendment.”

This effort will help expand the benefits of The NYS Food Donation and Food Scraps Recycling Law, which went into effect January 1, 2022, by providing additional support to stakeholders who may or may not be affected by the law. Currently, the law only pertains to certain entities that generate an annual average of two tons or more of food waste per week.  

“Creating a better, more sustainable future for our rural communities takes teamwork, and collaboration with all of the stakeholders,” says NYSP2I Director, Charles Ruffing. “NYSP2I is excited to join forces with these communities and CSCS to help reduce edible food waste across the Empire State.”

CSCS and NYSP2I will begin promoting the workshop series in the Spring of 2022 with the goal of facilitating multiple training events throughout the Summer of 2022. If you are interested in receiving updates about the workshop series, or learning more about this program, please contact SU-CSCS Program Manager, Jesse Kerns, at