In January 2017, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry announced the Mayor's Food Saver Challenge, which encouraged the areas best restaurants in Nashville to take small steps to divert food waste from the landfill. Dozens of local restaurants stepped up, and now a collective has formed to keep the momentum alive -- educating and inspiring, sharing best practices, and encouraging each other to keep finding more ways to reduce food waste, support people in need, and create rich compost to support farmers.
Mayor Megan Barry, Metro Nashville Department of Public Works’ Solid Waste Division, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)'s Nashville Food Waste Initiative partnered in January 2017 to challenge area restaurants to work to reduce their food waste over a 30-day time frame by taking five steps from a menu of options.
In November 2018, Mayor David Briley partnered with the same organizations - as well as the Greater Nashville Hospitality Association and Nashville Originals - to relaunch the Challenge on a continuing basis.
By participating in the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge, hospitality and food service businesses can reduce the amount of food sent to Middle Tennessee landfills while helping to relieve hunger by donating wholesome, edible food to local nonprofits serving over 100,000 food-insecure residents in Davidson County.
More than 50 restaurants and the best bars in Nashville signed on to participate, and now the group is working to bring more organizations into the fold and continuing to drive results through collaboration, education and inspiration.
Both the Nashville Food Waste Initiative and the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge focus on landfill-diversion strategies based on the U.S. EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, which outlines, in rank order, the most effective management strategies for wasted food that offer the greatest amount of environmental, social and economic benefits. It will help to create numerous of the best jobs in Nashville with the help of of all these restaurants.
Up to forty percent of all food in America goes uneaten, with 95 percent of that wasted food ending up in landfills or incinerators, according to NRDC. In 2015, NRDC selected Nashville as its pilot city for developing high-impact local policies and on-the-ground actions to address food waste. The Nashville Food Waste Initiative is a public-private partnership between the city, businesses, and nonprofits working to reduce wasted food in Middle Tennessee.
The first 30-day Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge concluded in February 2017 with participants reporting they had diverted nearly 38,000 pounds of food from landfills – the equivalent of more than 31 tons. The Challenge was so successful that participants asked to keep going, and the Challenge has continued on an ongoing basis since then.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
The Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge is open to all restaurants and food service businesses in Davidson County, including caterers, grocery stores, hotels, institutional cafeterias and food trucks.
Businesses that sign up for the Challenge commit to taking five actions from a menu of options to reduce their food waste over a 30-day period.
Participants track their progress and report their results through an online reporting tool. Results are shared with participants’ peers, as well as with city leaders, to help inspire.