Published by the Commission of Environmental Protection!
Last fall, we teamed up with our partners Recycle Leaders and Soilful to implement a Community Action Grant funded by Sustainability DC 2.0. The grant supported piloting the "Team Up on Food Waste @ DC Wards 7 and 8" action research project to work with DC residents living in some of our most marginalized neighborhoods where families face significant food access and food security challenges. We wrote about it in this blog here. Recycle Leaders is a social enterprise that helps schools and students learn to lead lasting change by implementing impactful waste action projects. Soilful provides expertise in urban agriculture and food access in Wards 7 and 8.
The Commission for Environmental Protection (CEC) published our project to highlight our experience, lessons learned, and success. The direct link to our case is here. It's also available in French and Spanish.
What was measured? Team members of the "Team up on Food Waste @ DC Wards 7 and 8" action research team measured their own households' "preventable food waste" and took action to reduce it during an 8-week action research course that included six weeks of data collection, two weeks of baseline data and four weeks of taking action.
How was it measured? Teammates used a standard data sheet to keep a running tally of each item of "preventable food waste" they discarded and why, then reported weekly volume and weight data.
What were the outcomes? Together, participants (referred to as "action researchers") reduced "preventable food waste" by approximately 60%. Also, action researchers reported benefits such as saving money and time. They also enjoyed the experience and became interested in taking further action (e.g., starting to compost). Lessons learned from this project informed the creation of a guide in partnership with the Audubon Naturalist Society on leading a "Make the Most of Food" civic action challenge for teachers and green team leaders. This guide respects inclusivity considerations for students and households facing food access and food security challenges, which was the project's purpose.
And hear what some of our participants had to say:
“Listening to other people’s ideas and thoughts on how they could better their homes and how they managed their waste really gave me a lot of ideas.”
– Charday Eury, participant
“I participated because food waste has been a major challenge for me for a while and I thought it would be a great opportunity to put forth the effort to make a change and the project would give me a sense of accountability.”
– Taft Barber, participant