Forty percent of all food in the United States is wasted every year. To address this crucial issue, the Village of Oak Park issued a proclamation declaring November 3-9, 2019 “Food Waste Awareness Week.” Throughout the week, the Interfaith Green Network, along with other organizations, presented two complimentary programs to aid in education and awareness.

Participants at Oak Park Food Waste Awareness Week event, seated and discussing issuesThe first, a screening of the documentary Just Eat It, follows two filmmakers as they decide to embark on a 6 month experiment to eat only food discards. The film was held on Sunday, November 3rd, with a large attendance of over 80 residents and participants. The film garnered positive feedback from viewers, with a follow up discussion post-screening that included suggestions on how to reduce household food waste, questions on the legalities of “dumpster diving,” and how to work with local grocers on purchasing food that would otherwise end up as waste for various reasons, including not meeting company cosmetic standards.

The second program, held on Thursday November 7th, garnered over 60 participants, and was a workshop on what is currently being done to divert food waste and how residents and consumers can help. Speakers included Julie Schilf, a representative from the Environmental Protection Agency, John Lardner of the IFSC, Stephanie Katsaros, founder of Bright Beat, a local consultancy that engages and educates about composting and many other initiatives, and Rush Oak Park Hospital’s Food Surplus Project, a program that delivers leftover food from the hospital to Beyond Hunger. Along with the panel of speakers, representatives of local groups all working on different aspects of reducing food waste were present. Oak Park’s School District 97 Green Teams, One Earth Film Festival, Triton College’s Culinary School, Sugar Beet Co-op, Imperfect Foods, and the Village of Oak Park were all available for participants to engage with and learn more about the respective programs offered, along with food waste reducing efforts.Oak Park residents discuss food waste issues at event booths

Both the film screening and the Food Waste Workshop were held at the Oak Park Public Library located at 834 Lake Street. Overall, both events were a success with both participating organizations and residents: recognizing those groups and businesses that are working towards addressing food waste, and educating, increasing awareness, and engagement of individuals.

Thanks to Leslie Hernandez and Mindy Agnew for providing this update!

A man and woman standing in foreground converse with other people in background at Oak Park food waste awareness eventResidents interact with info booth staff at Oak Park food waste awareness event