By Julie Schilf
U.S. EPA’s Excess Food Opportunities Map is a national resource that builds upon existing state work and other EPA products to support and facilitate the connection between potential sources and potential recipients- or users- of excess food, so we can put food to better use. The map identifies potential generators of excess food, along with estimates of how much excess food may be generated at each establishment. The map also identifies potential users– or recipients– of that excess food and can be used as a starting point to identify opportunities for better uses of excess food- whether edible and fit for donation to people in need, or as a feedstock for composters and anaerobic digesters. Let’s look at five ways IFSC members can use the Excess Food Opportunities Map:
1. Find Compost Facilities
The Excess Food Opportunities Map is interactive and can answer basic questions such as where composting facilities are located within the U.S. IFSC members and businesses can find available options besides disposal for their excess food and identify other businesses to potentially partner with to attract haulers and create route density.
2. Identify Potential Sources of Feedstock
Existing composters and AD facilities can use the map to identify new sources of feedstock. The Excess Food Opportunities Map displays the locations of nearly 1.2 million potential excess food generators including educational institutions, food banks, healthcare facilities, hospitality, food wholesale and retail, restaurants and food service, food manufacturing/processing facilities and correctional facilities. The map displays other facility specific information such as estimates of excess food generated and the name and location for select industries.
3. Build Upon Existing IFSC Maps
Map users can download selected layers and data points for use in their own GIS applications. IFSC generated maps may contain useful information at a local level. Combining datasets from both sources can improve upon the availability of information. Complete tabular and national GIS datasets from the map are available for direct download from the EPA Environmental Dataset Gateway.
4. Understand Estimated Quantities of Excess Food Generated
Organizations and state and local governments can download the data and use the underlying methodology to develop an understanding of where excess food is being generated and existing or potential ways to manage that food.
5. Identify Infrastructure Gaps to Assess Feasibility for New Facilities or SSO Programs
The map can help identify potential infrastructure gaps, such as areas where there is plenty of potential excess food but limited options for composting or digestion. At the local level in Illinois, the map can inform the decision-making and siting process for smaller landscape/food scrap transfer stations and community garden compost sites.
If you are interested in using EPA’s Excess Food Opportunities Map and would like assistance getting started, please contact Julie Schilf at email@example.com. For more information on managing excess food, please visit www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food.