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Three Kansas City Organizations Earn Regional Awards for Making Significant Progress in Reducing Food Waste in America

Mid-America Regional Council Solid Waste District, Rising Star Elementary, and Johnson County Department of Health and Environment among EPA Food Recovery Challenge participants recognized for outstanding achievement

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Ashley Murdie (

Environmental News


(Lenexa, Kan., April 23, 2020) - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Solid Waste District, Rising Star Elementary, and the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) with 2019 Food Recovery Challenge Regional Awards. As part of EPA's Food Recovery Challenge, organizations pledge to improve their sustainable food management practices and report their results.

image of MARC FRCMid-America Regional Council“Food Recovery Challenge participants are leaders in showing how preventing food waste and diverting excess wholesome food to people is an environmental win and a cost-saving business decision,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Their accomplishments serve as excellent examples to other companies, governments, organizations and communities.”

“Thanks to their combined efforts, these Kansas City organizations are helping the community reduce hunger, save money, and protect the environment by diverting food waste from landfills,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “Together, their initiative and innovation exemplify how everyday actions taken by our youth, community organizations, and local businesses can make a real difference in our community.”

The MARC Solid Waste District serves the Kansas City metropolitan area including nine counties and 119 city governments. MARC’s primary goal is to disseminate information through its website, social media channels, and district meetings. In 2018, MARC hosted a viewing of the film "Wasted” with community outreach tables. MARC also coordinated the annual Missouri Recycling Association Conference, where two sessions on food waste were held with more than 40 people in attendance as well as a Food Recovery Challenge recognition award event.

image of Rising Star Elem FRCRising Star Elementary“Reducing wasted food is a triple win; it's good for the environment, for communities, and for the economy,” said MARC Solid Waste Program Manager Lisa McDaniels.

Rising Star Elementary is a leader in cafeteria composting and recycling in the Shawnee Mission School District of Johnson County, Kansas. As an early adopter school, Rising Star was among the first 15 innovative schools to envision and implement food waste education in the district between 2008 and 2015. They set in motion a process that resulted in all 48 district schools and the Center for Academic Achievement administrative center participating in the program by the spring of 2018. A schoolwide culture of sustainability at Rising Star is credited for its success.

“The custodial staff at Rising Star Elementary has served an integral role in the success of their composting and recycling program,” said Rising Star Custodial Supervisor Judd Remmers. “It provides custodians with an opportunity to connect day-to-day school operations with what students are learning in the classroom and they really enjoy that part of it.”

“My staff does an amazing job,” said Rising Star Principal Kristie Darby. “They lead the way, helping assure students take what they want, eat what they take, and dispose of waste in the proper bins. In turn, the staff credits the teachers, students and parents for their commitment to sustainability.”

image of JCDHE FRCJohnson County Department of Health and EnvironmentThe Johnson County Department of Health and Environment continues to be very active in educating the public about food waste prevention, preservation, creative reuse, and use as feedstock for compost as an alternative to landfilling. To date, JCDHE has helped the Shawnee Mission School District educate 800 middle school students on using reusable flatware and trays with a “take what you want, eat what you take” approach to maximize nutrition for the students and minimize food waste. Composting is offered as an alternative option to trash in over 40 district buildings and facilities. In 2018, the school district’s composting diverted 771,250 pounds from local landfills and 750 cubic yards of compost were returned to school projects and gardens.

“Johnson County has almost 60,000 residents who are food insecure and may not know where their next meal is coming from, while at the same time we have an abundance of food going to waste,” said JCDHE Food Policy and Advocacy Coordinator Renee Bryant. “We want a county where people are fed before landfills.”

Food is a valuable resource. Efforts to reduce food waste and ensure excess food doesn’t go to waste are needed now more than ever. The innovation these businesses are showcasing can serve as examples as the nation works together to address the COVID-19 public health emergency. Over 1,000 businesses, governments and organizations participated in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge in 2019. Participants prevented or diverted over 815,000 tons of food from entering landfills or incinerators, saving participants up to $42.3 million in avoided landfill tipping fees.


Food waste is the single largest type of waste thrown away each year in our daily trash. In 2017, more than 40 million tons of food waste was generated. Food waste adversely impacts the economy, our communities, and the environment by wasting the resources used to grow and transport food. At the same time, approximately 11% of America’s households had difficulty providing enough food for all of their family members in 2018. Hungry people in need would benefit from the redirection of nutritious, wholesome food that would have otherwise been thrown away. The strategies used by Food Recovery Challenge organizations, plus those implemented by individuals, communities, and public-private partnerships help to lessen these impacts and bring the United States closer to meeting the national goal to reduce food waste by 50% by the year 2030.

For more information on the Food Recovery Challenge national and regional award winners, visit EPA’s website.

For more information on the national food loss and waste reduction goal, visit EPA’s website.

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