Sustainable Management of Food

Food Recovery Challenge (FRC)

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As part of EPA's Food Recovery Challenge, organizations pledge to improve their sustainable food management practices and report their results. The FRC is part of EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program (SMM). SMM seeks to reduce the environmental impact of materials through their entire life cycle. This includes how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled, and disposed.

Organizations are encouraged to follow the Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize their actions to prevent and divert wasted food.

Who Can Join

Any business or organization can join the FRC as a participant or endorser.

  • Participants prevent and divert wasted food in their operations. They follow the Food Recovery Hierarchy. The Hierarchy recommends actions in the following order by - prevention, donation, composting and/or anaerobic digestion.
  • Endorsers promote sustainable management of food by educating organizations and businesses about the environmental, social and economic benefits of preventing and diverting wasted food. Importantly, endorsers also recruit organizations and businesses to join the FRC.

Food Recovery Challenge participants and endorsers include groups such as grocers, educational institutions, restaurants, faith organizations, sports and entertainment venues, and hospitality businesses.

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Benefits of Joining as a Participant

  • Reduce your environmental footprint.
  • Help your community by donating nutritious, leftover food to feed hungry people, not landfills.
  • Save money by purchasing less and lowering waste disposal fees.
  • Establishing donation programs may result in potential tax benefits.
  • Gain visibility by having your name listed on the EPA’s website.
  • Receive recognition through awards and social media.
  • Get free technical assistance in the form of webinars, an online database, and resources to help you plan, implement and track your activities.
  • Get a free climate change report to highlight your positive effect on the environment.

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How to Join as a Participant

1. Sign Up

  • Go to the SMM Data Management SystemExit to register.
  • Once your account has been activated, choose the "Food Recovery Challenge" and sign the participation agreement. Please see an example of participation agreement form.

2. Set a Baseline

  • Assess It! Conduct an inventory of your wasted food. Baseline data provides a starting point for setting goals and tracking progress. We recommend that your baseline data represent the last 12 months of food data. If you need help, please contact your regional representative.
  • Submit It: Baseline data must be entered and submitted through the SMM Data Management System within 90 days of registering for the Challenge. Choose from three food diversion categories: wasted food prevention (e.g. source reduction), donation, and/or recycling (e.g. composting and anaerobic digestion). Don't forget to click the "submit" button in the database.

3. Set a Goal

  • Choose Your Actions: Choose the activities your business or organization plans to undertake. Examples are modifying food purchasing, changing food production and handling practices, reducing excessive portion size, donating to those in need, and recycling. Tools such as the logbook and food waste calculator can also help here.
  • Submit It: Goals must be entered and submitted through the SMM Data Management System Exit within 90 days of registering for the Challenge. Identify a quantitative goal, expressed in tons for the current calendar year. Don't forget to click the "Submit" button in the database.

4. Take Action

Undertake the identified activities to prevent or reduce your wasted food.

5. Track It

Track your progress, report your wasted food prevention or diversion results, and establish new goals every year using the SMM Data Management System Exit. Report your results by March 31 each year. Don't forget to click the "submit" button in the database.

Have questions? Contact your regional representative or the HelpLine at 800-EPA-WISE (800-372-9473), or send an email to

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Endorsing the FRC

Endorsers are a critical component in the effort to prevent or reduce wasted food. The most effective method of tackling the wasted food problem is to learn about the issue and the actions that you can take to prevent it. Endorser can lead communities in that effort and get recognized for their hard work. Learn more about how to make a difference, benefits of joining, and how to join as an endorser.

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What Organizations and Businesses are FRC Participants and Endorsers?


Note: Emerge Knowledge Design Inc. developed the SMM Data Management System under GSA contract number is GS-35F-0589V. The system is hosted in Re-TRAC Connect.

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