Food Waste Prevention in a Neighborhood Near You!

Food requires an enormous amount of resources and energy to grow, manufacture and transport, and yet Americans waste 30% of the food they purchase. Steve Cohen, Food Policy Coordinator for the City of Portland says, “Imagine if people purchased three bags of groceries and left one sitting out in the parking lot. That is basically what the average American is doing with their groceries, except it happens at home.”

Master Recyclers have been hearing from Steve about this problem as well as reasons that food gets wasted. Most of it comes down to purchasing or cooking more than people need (not planning ahead) and letting food go bad before we get to it (improper food storage). Class discussion has also included techniques to tackle these problems (meal planning, grocery lists and mobile apps, proper food storage, measuring food, knowing portions, and understanding dates on packaging).

 Finally, there are ways all over the region for Master Recyclers to share these tools and ideas with the community!

 Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge

The Washington County Solid Waste & Recycling Program is teaming up with the Cities of Gresham and Beaverton to reduce the amount of household food waste, through the Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge.

Starting this summer, residents visiting select area farmers markets will be able to learn more about smart storage, the first step in the Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge.

The “Challenge” booth will be run by County staff and Master Recyclers on the dates listed below and in the MR calendar.. Visitors can play a magnetic food sorting game — placing food items in “the fridge”, “on the counter” or “in a cool dark place.” Residents are given tips on how to store everything from strawberries to basil. Plus, if you sign up to take the Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge, you will be entered in a drawing for a chance to win fun prizes.

Master Recyclers will also help with social media and follow up conversations with the public to help trouble shoot and measure success.

 Portland Climate Action Now (CAN)

Wasting food also means wasting energy which is bad news when the energy we use has such big implications for our planet. The Portland CAN campaign is helping people lower their carbon footprint by sharing ways to reduce food waste.

Just like the Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge, the Portland CAN kit includes an interactive food storage game. Master Recyclers will share resources, tips and tools at ten diverse community events in Portland (also in the calendar). Residents will walk away with the Portland CAN food waste prevention kit that is chock-full of tools and resources like lists of mobile apps for grocery lists.


Check the calendar and newsletters to join in. You can also check out a kit for your own project contact:

Portland: Bill Beamer, 503-823-0000,

Washington County: Brian Stafki, 503-846-3651,

Beaverton: Contact Elizabeth Cole, 503-526-2665,

Gresham Shaunna Sutcliffe-Shadle, 503-618-2694, 


It seems appropriate to kick of this food movement in the Spring. Join in and see how the seeds of your outreach grow!