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News Releases

DHEC and Partners to Hold State’s First ‘Don't Waste Food SC Ambassador Day’ to Discourage Food Waste, Address Food Insecurity

Safe, unused food can be shared with those who lack access to healthy foods

March 31, 2022

COLUMBIA, S.C.  – The first “Don’t Waste Food SC Ambassador Day” is being held April 6 by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to draw attention to the downside of food waste and how safe and healthy unused food can be shared with those who lack access to healthy foods.

The main purpose of the day is to increase awareness of the damaging economic, environmental and social impacts of wasted food in South Carolina as well as to provide residents, businesses and organizations with tools to help prevent food waste. The Don’t Waste Food SC Ambassador Day occurs during Food Waste Prevention Week (April 4-8), which DHEC is recognizing along with several other southeastern states. The Ambassador Day event is a community partner luncheon being held at Segra Park in Columbia on April 6.

“The sustainable management of food is essential,” said Myra Reece, DHEC Director of Environmental Affairs. “Prevention and donation to help feed those in need are the key first steps. In South Carolina, one in nine residents are food insecure, including one in seven children. If everyone does their part, this problem can be solved.”

Food is the number one item thrown away by Americans each year, resulting in up to 40 percent of the nation’s food supply not being consumed and an annual loss of more than $200 billion. Wasted food squanders the land, water, energy, labor and other resources used to produce, package and move food from farms to plates. 

Food waste occurs at all levels: fields go unharvested, produce is discarded based on appearance, date labels can be confusing, and consumers often buy too much, leaving food to spoil. Most food waste occurs at home.

To help combat food waste in South Carolina, DHEC created the Don’t Waste Food SC (DWFSC) initiative in 2016. The collaborative outreach campaign brings together ambassadors from the public and private sectors, including individuals, businesses and organizations, that are dedicated to sharing knowledge and working together to reduce food waste in South Carolina. 

"South Carolina’s growing sustainability sector is making a meaningful environmental and economic impact on our state, now exceeding $13 billion," said Harry M. Lightsey III, Secretary of the South Carolina Department of Commerce. "As food remains our nation’s top waste material, SC Commerce is proud to support the statewide growth of industrial scale food composting facilities. The year-over-year growth of jobs and investments in the compost industry is a testament to South Carolina’s commitment to sustainable organic material management, and I encourage all companies to pursue opportunities to recycle scrap materials."

Taking actions to limit food waste also is one way in which South Carolinians can help reduce food insecurity and hunger, which are linked to negative health outcomes in children and adults. Residents can take several steps to help reduce the amount of food waste that’s generated at home, including:

  • Plan your meals. Use what you have at home first. 
  • Shop smart. Make a list, stick to it. Printable Shopping List
  • Prep smart and store smart. Prepare perishable food soon after shopping or meal prep. Freeze items to keep fresh. Do the FIFO: first in, first out. Keep produce in its proper place. Fruit and Vegetable Storage Info
  • Don’t be confused by date labels. Food doesn’t magically spoil on that date. Product Dating Info
  • Love your leftovers. If dining out, take your leftovers home. Be creative to make new meals with leftovers. 
  • Buy directly from local farmers. You'll get fresher food and keep your dollars in the community.  Where to Buy Local in SC
  • Donate non-perishable items. One in nine South Carolinians is food insecure, according to Feeding America. Feeding the Carolinas Foodbanks

No matter what measures residents take to prevent wasted food, some waste is unavoidable. However, food waste doesn’t need to go in the garbage – most should be composted. Composting involves a little effort and some equipment but can reduce waste, help save money, and provide a nutrient-rich soil amendment or mulch for yards, gardens and potted plants. DHEC provides composting tips online here

To learn more about Food Waste Prevention Week in the Southeast, visit To learn more about Don’t Waste Food SC, visit Follow Don’t Waste Food SC’s handle “@dontwastefoodsc” on Instagram and Facebook for additional information and resources.



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