New MPCA grants aim to prevent wasted food and distribute food to those in need

Contact: Lauren Lewandowski, 612-270-9615

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is looking to fund innovative programs and projects that prevent wasted food and/or help distribute it to people experiencing food insecurity, especially those in underrepresented communities. This could include:

  • restaurants experimenting with smaller portion sizes,
  • community organizations teaching residents how to prepare meals with less waste,
  • grocery stores modernizing purchasing practices with new software;
  • nonprofits rescuing food that would have been thrown out and delivering it to residents, and more.

The new grants program, approved and funded by the Legislature in 2019, has numerous benefits: It helps meet basic needs of Minnesotans, reduces the amount of food that goes to landfills, and contributes to a healthier environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Prevention of Wasted Food and Food Rescue Grants will award a total of half a million dollars ranging from $75,000 to $250,000 to programs that demonstrate community-wide benefits. Programs must be able to measure the amount of food being saved from landfill and/or distributed to Minnesotans in need, or estimate environmental impact.

“Food makes up about 18% of what Minnesotans throw away,” said Kayla Walsh, a composting and recycling specialist at the MPCA. “There’s a lot of energy that goes into producing our food, so preventing wasted food through better purchasing, food storage, or food rescue, can have a huge climate benefit. Food rescue is also not only good for the climate, but it helps redistribute excess food to feed hungry people.”

Research indicates that between 30% and 40% of food in the United States goes uneaten, which translates to about 400 pounds of food being thrown out per person. At the same time, one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table. Wasted food is also a significant contributor to climate change, responsible for at least 2.6% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions or 37 million cars worth.

Minnesota businesses, nonprofit organizations, institutions, political subdivisions of the state, state agencies, and tribal governments are encouraged to apply. In addition to programs that have a measurable impact through prevention, food rescue, or reducing the greenhouse gas impacts from wasted food, grants will support businesses working to increase food storage capacity, education and outreach programs to households, community groups, and staff working in areas that generate a lot of wasted food. Multi-organizational collaboration is encouraged. Applicants must match at least 25% of the grant award.

Applications are due Friday, June 12, 2020, by 4:00 P.M. See the request for proposals for full details on eligibility, grant match amounts, and other information that will help applicants submit a proposal on MPCA’s webpage: Prevention of wasted food and food rescue grants.