URI grant to help reduce food waste, boost food access

The University of Rhode Island has received a $100,000 federal grant that will help reduce food waste while improving access to healthy, locally-grown food for residents in need.

The grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be used to establish the Food System Steward Program at URI, according to a statement from Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed’s office.

The program, which will involve coursework and community stewardship projects, will train adult learners to reduce food waste, provide healthy food to underserved populations, adopt conservation behaviors, and foster community engagement around food waste solutions, the university said.

The program is expected to recover more than 60,000 pounds (27,200 kilograms) of food waste, and direct 40,000 pounds (18,140 kilograms) of locally-grown produce to food insecure populations, the university said.

“With the pandemic bringing food access and food waste issues to the forefront, this program will appeal to Rhode Islanders who wish to contribute to local solutions to these pressing problems,” URI Cooperative Extension State Program Leader Vanessa Venturini said in a statement.