Edison, NJ -- Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck was joined by Senator Cory Booker, Congressman Frank Pallone, BJ’s Wholesale Club’s Doug Schiefelbein Community Food Bank of New Jersey’s (CFBNJ) Tristan Wallack and Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey to announce BJ’s participation in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge program at the store in Edison, NJ. Participants in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge reduce, donate, and compost as much of their excess food as possible, which saves money, feeds hungry people and helps protect the environment. As part of this new agreement, BJ’s plans to develop new benchmarks to measure progress from its food donation program BJ’s Feeding Communities as well as utilize EPA’s tools to enhance its environmental programs and minimize its environmental footprint.
“A staggering amount of nutritious and edible food is wasted every day, winding up in landfills where it produces methane gas,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA commends BJ’s Wholesale Club for being part of the commitment to feed people and not landfills.”
Food accounts for the greatest percentage, more than 20%, of waste going to landfills in the United States. One way to reduce that volume of waste is by donating edible food that would otherwise be thrown away. According to EPA’s Municipal Characterization Report, Americans are wasting more than 36 million tons of food per year, 96 percent of which is thrown away into landfills or incinerators. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that this translates into a loss of approximately $165 billion annually. At the same time, 14.9 percent of households in the U.S. were food insecure in 2011, meaning they did not know where their next meal would come from.
“At BJ’s Wholesale Club, what is not sold, is shared; we have a vested interest in addressing and helping to solve the very real problems of hunger prevention in our local communities,” said Doug Schiefelbein, general manager of the BJ’s Wholesale Club in Edison, New Jersey. “BJ’s Wholesale Club is proud to join the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge. We look forward to working together with the EPA to help keep food out of landfills and minimize greenhouse gas emissions to better the neighborhoods we serve.”
In addition to being the first wholesale club to join the Food Recovery Challenge, BJ’s also recently awarded a grant of $21,000 to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in honor of the company’s 30th anniversary and Hunger Action Month in September. The grant will help the Community Food Bank of New Jersey build capacity through the purchase of additional refrigerators, thermal blankets and other equipment for their partner organizations such as local soup kitchens and food pantries. The new equipment will help their anti-hunger partners store a larger amount of perishable items, thus distributing more nutritious options to local families struggling with food insecurity in New Jersey. The Food Bank was one of 30 grantees that BJ’s Charitable Foundation awarded to Feeding America-member food banks across the 15 states where BJ’s operates.
BJ’s launched a chain-wide initiative, BJ’s Feeding Communities Program in 2011 to help in the fight against hunger. In partnership with Feeding America, the nation’s largest food bank network, BJ’s Clubs donate unsold but still wholesome and nutritious produce, meat, poultry, fish and dairy to food banks and local agencies within the BJ’s footprint. As of August, 2014 BJ’s has donated over 22 million pounds of frozen meat, poultry and fish, produce, dairy and bakery products to food banks, which is the equivalent of 18 million meals. Locally, the BJ’s in Edison has donated 182,762 pounds of healthy, nutritious food, which is the equivalent of 152,302 meals. In total, 15 of BJ’s Clubs in New Jersey that support the CFBNJ have donated 1,470,140 pounds of food, equating to 1,225,117 meals.
BJ’s Feeding Communities Program aligns with the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy to Feed Hungry People.
EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge is based on the fact that wasted food has economic, environmental, and social impacts. Much of this waste is not waste at all, but actually safe, wholesome food that could potentially feed millions of Americans. Excess food, leftovers and scraps that are not fit for consumption and donation can be composted into a nutrient-rich soil supplement. There is also a tremendous waste of energy and natural resources that goes to the growth, processing, transporting and marketing of food, all of which goes to waste when food is thrown away. A full list of the 600 participants can be found at Food Recovery Challenge.
More information on EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge: http://www.epa.gov/smm/foodrecovery/index.htm.