The Elk Grove city staff last week launched the “Erase Food Waste” campaign to encourage people to not waste edible foods and to be mindful of how they store food.

Organizers stated that unnecessary food waste can harm the environment by boosting methane and other greenhouse gas emissions in landfills. They said that Californians waste an estimated 30% of their food by discarding it.

Heather Neff, the city’s recycling and waste manager, told the Citizen that the campaign aims to prepare Elk Grove residents for California’s 2022 requirement for cities and counties to divert organic waste such as discarded food away from landfills. The city is working with Republic Services to create a curbside pickup program for organic wastes. Neff said there will likely be green waste bins that will be provided for residents to place their garden and lawn clippings as well as discarded food.

“We wanted to get started on getting the negative impacts of food waste on the minds of residents” she said about the Erase Food Waste campaign.

She noted that Elk Grove already has one of Sacramento County’s highest “diversion rates” or the rate of preventing waste from going to landfills. The diverted trash is instead set aside for recycling.

As for food waste, Neff said that the best option for reducing such waste is to place it in a home compost bin. She said that those who lack such bins can still reduce food waste by planning their grocery shopping to only purchase food they need and to properly store their food to last at home until it’s eaten.

Neff also mentioned that the Erase Food Waste campaign will educate the public about the differences between expiration dates and “best by” food dates on food packaging.

“There seems to be a lot of confusion there since they are not expiration dates,” she said about “best by” dates.

The campaign will also include public workshops, social media messages, and educational resources throughout the year.

Neff said her staff will also inform residents about where they can donate food such as the Elk Grove Food Bank Services to help community members in need.

“We’re definitely letting folks know that as we’ve seen in recent months a demand for food banks is at an all-time high,” she said.

The Elk Grove food bank is currently organizing their annual Run 4 Hunger fundraiser online. This longtime nonprofit reported they had more than 4,000 client register for food assistance since March when government stay-at-home orders were issued to reduce the spread of COVID-19.