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Battle Creek seeking funds to become a zero food waste test market community

Battel Creek Enquirer
Bill Schroer

One of the biggest food producing cities in the nation is doing its part to eliminate food waste mobilizing local local industry and the community to develop food-waste solutions.

Battle Creek is home to 37 food companies, including Post Foods, Kellogg Company, ConAgra Foods. Several food resources in the relatively small town, approximately 50,000 people, make Battle Creek the perfect test market, says Bill Schroer, a marketing and management consultant with extensive experience in the food industry.

Schroer talks with Kirk Heinze on Greening of the Great Lakes to share how he and his partners plan to transform Battle Creek into a zero food waste city.

"In this country, 10 percent of the energy is used in food production," he explains. "Fifty percent of the arable land is used for food production and 80 percent of all of the freshwater consumed in the U.S. goes for food."

With all of the valuable resources used in food production, 40 percent of that food will be wasted or uneaten, Schroer adds, resulting in $218 billion of America's dollars going into the garbage.

"It's an issue that touches all of us even though some may not realize it," he says.

Not only does wasted food negatively impact the economy, but it damages individual household budgets. Families will lose $1,800 to $2,500 a year on average to food waste.

Looking to enhance both economic and environmental progress in the community, Schroer and George Franklin, a former vice president at Kellogg, and Brendan McCrann, an expert on food waste, formed a committee.

Together with local community partners, state government and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) development fund, the committee hopes to create a successful model of food saving initiatives that can eventually be implemented nationwide.

"We want to evaluate the different component solutions in food waste to determine best practices and provide a model for what communities around the country could look at to address food waste," says Schroer.

Battle Creek's plan includes industrial composting, anaerobic digesters, changes to freshness dating and creating awareness of the issue at a household level. Schroer also anticipates utilizing the agriculture and engineering experts nearby at Michigan State University.

The team is seeking significant funding to launch the plan, especially the all-important educational components. After submitting a proposal to the USDA in June, they await a formal response to get started.

Greening of the Great Lakes airs inside MSU Today Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on AM 870.

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