Plates Over Waste discusses future goals for food conservation

Elena Sucharetza, Assistant City Editor

Evanston residents and Northwestern student groups involved in a campaign to brainstorm legislative strategies to reduce food waste in the city discussed their goals at City Council on Monday.

The initiative, Plates Over Waste, presented an outline of their future goals to council members. Co-Founder Devon Malcolm Reid said he hopes the group’s future strategies involve encouraging businesses to take food conservation into account as opposed to taking a punitive route for noncomplying businesses. Plates Over Waste is a part of the Millennial Action Committee, a larger organization that works with Evanston youth to discuss politics in community.

“We want to get it on Council’s radar that we are serious about this and want to create a pragmatic, smart policy that doesn’t penalize businesses for throwing food away but incentivizes them to compost and get more food on plates,” Reid said.

Reid said tackling food waste in Evanston is pressing considering one in seven residents can be classified as food insecure, defined as having the inability to secure regular, healthy and affordable food options on a day-to-day basis.

The organization recently held a public meeting on Thursday at Coffee Lab, 910 Noyes St., to discuss food insecurity with community members and students from both NU and Evanston Township High School.

Ald. Brian Miller (9th) said the group should work on instituting a specific ordinance in future planning. He said city staff is unable to move forward with initiatives unless there is some requirement or other request written in an ordinance.

“They need to have some sort of ordinance before something concrete can come from presenting information that mostly everyone agrees with,” Miller told The Daily. “After writing it down then it would be good if city staff took a look at it and refined it.”

Despite this need for the group to come up with an organized plan, Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) said it was crucial to listen to the group as businesses have already demonstrated the ability to comply with food conservation initiatives. She cited Amazing Kale Burger, a local business, as an establishment that has advertised its ability to fit its weekly trash into a standard sized white kitchen bag.

Matt Faden, a Communication sophomore and co-chair of Points for a Purpose at NU, emphasized that it was not only important for Points for a Purpose to help spearhead food waste reduction around the city, but entirely possible to make a difference in the city. He said Plates Over Waste’s goals were exactly in line with Points for a Purpose’s mission to eliminate food insecurity in both the Evanston and Cook County communities.

“30 to 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste and it’s totally plausible for a community to have a huge portion of that percentage go to individuals who are food insecure,” Faden said.

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