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Sustainable Management of Food

Joining the Food Recovery Challenge and the Awards Process

Food Recovery Challenge partners reduce wasted food in their operations, communicate the importance of reducing wasted food, and conserve resources through prevention and diversion activities. Joining the Food Recovery Challenge has no financial obligation. Signing a participation agreement initiates the partnership and demonstrates your organization's commitment.

On this page:

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Steps to Join the Food Recovery Challenge

An organization or business can join the program as a participant or an endorser. Please note: individuals are not eligible to join the program.

  1. Create an Account and Complete a Participation Agreement

Create an account in the data management system, currently hosted by Re-TRAC Connect™. Exit Once your account has been activated, login into Re-TRAC Connect™ and select the "Food Recovery Challenge."

Select your partner type - participant or endorser - and complete a participation agreement. (See a sample participation agreement.)

  1. Enter Your Data

In your Annual Data and Goal Form in Re-TRAC ConnectExit, your first year of data (i.e., baseline data) will provide a starting point for setting goals and tracking progress. Your baseline data should represent the last 12 months, if possible.

Participants: to determine your first year or baseline data, conduct an inventory of your wasted food and how much you can divert. Food diversion categories may include wasted food prevention (e.g., source reduction), donation, and/or composting or anaerobic digestion.

Endorsers: consider your projects over the past year and any associated metrics for recruitment efforts such as events, presentations or attendees.

If you need measurement assistance, contact your EPA regional representative.

3. Set a Goal

Set your goals for the following year.

Participants: Enter the anticipated percentage improvement for the following year in at least one diversion activity that your business or organization plans to undertake. Examples of activities you might undertake include modifying food purchasing, changing food production and handling practices, reducing excessive portion size, donating to those in need, starting compost collection, or sending food scraps to an anerobic digestion facility.

Endorsers: Describe anticipated presentations, events, and estimated attendees. Examples of activities you might undertake include working with and/or educating others on the importance of reducing their wasted food by way of newsletters, presentations, meetings, and social media. Help others learn why preventing and reducing wasted food makes good business sense and conserves environmental resources. You can also encourage organizations and businesses to join the Food Recovery Challenge as participants.

4. Take Action

Carry out the activities you have identified to prevent or reduce wasted food.

5. Track Your Progress and Submit Annual Data

Track your progress and report your annual data by the designated deadline each year in Re-TRAC Connect™. This form in which you will input your data includes your goals of wasted food prevention and/or diversion.

For questions or assistance, contact your EPA regional representative or email

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Awards Process

Recognition is a key element of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Program and the Food Recovery Challenge. To learn more about past Food Recovery Challenge awardees, visit the Awards webpage.

Food Recovery Challenge awards are given in two categories:

Data Driven Awards: Given to participants only, these awards are based on the percent change of an organization’s data compared to its previous year data, as entered in Re-TRAC ConnectExit

Narrative Awards: Given to both participants and endorsers, these awards are based on applications submitted in Re-TRAC Connect™. Narrative awards are given in the following categories:

  • Source reduction (participants only)
  • Leadership
  • Innovation
  • Education and Outreach
  • Endorser (endorsers only)

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Eligibility Criteria

  • Only U.S.-based organizations and businesses are eligible.
  • Only activities conducted since an applicant's last award are eligible.
  • Previous awardees and applicants are eligible but will be judged based on their activities since the last award cycle.

To be eligible for a data-driven award, a participant must do the following:

  • Join the Food Recovery Challenge before January 1 of the previous calendar year. *
    (* ‘Newcomer’ data-driven awards may be considered for those joining in the previous calendar year.)
  • Submit a participation agreement and two consecutive years of annual data, including goals, in Re-TRAC Connect™ by the designated date.

To be eligible for a narrative award, a participant or endorser must do the following:

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Evaluation Criteria and Selection Process

EPA reviews and evaluates all data and award applications submitted by the annual designated deadline. Finalists need to pass EPA civil and criminal compliance screening in order to be selected.

Data-Driven Awards
EPA uses a weighted calculation to evaluate data entered by participants in Re-TRAC Connect™. The calculation is based on participants’ reported activities in the system and where the activity taken by the participant falls on the Food Recovery Hierarchy. For example, source reduction, as the most preferred activity on the Food Recovery Hierarchy, is given the highest weight. Other activities are weighted accordingly, based on their place on the Hierarchy.

Narrative Awards
Each narrative award category includes a set of questions with associated percentages. Award applications are evaluated by a panel, scored and ranked. Applications must be accurate and complete. In addition to responses included in the narrative award applications, awardees are selected based on results of both civil and criminal enforcement screens and other qualitative factors.

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Awards Recognition

Food Recovery Challenge awardees are recognized annually on the Awards webpage, in addition to other outreach that may include a press release and social media.

For questions or assistance, contact your EPA regional representative or email

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