Tag Archives: community

This Earth Day, Let’s Tackle Food Waste Together

By: Bureau of Environmental Health Services

When people think about Earth Day, some of the things that come to mind are recycling, planting trees, and reducing pollution.  Consider food safety and the reduction of food waste in this conversation. With 40% of all food in the United States being wasted every year, it is easy to see that this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.  These food habits lead to massive amounts of money wasted and environmental degradation – even though in South Carolina alone, 1 in 7 people, including 1 in 5 children, struggle with hunger according to Feeding America.  Fortunately, this is a challenge that can be addressed both individually and systemically.

You Can End Food Waste! It Starts at Home 

A couple of strategies for individual food waste management:

1).  Purchase only what you know you’re going to eat. When our refrigerators become overpacked, air is unable to properly circulate, and proper temperatures of less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit cannot be maintained. This results in food going bad and needing to be thrown out and energy being wasted through a constantly running refrigerator.  In case you need a good visual of the journey of bringing food to our tables, watch “The Extraordinary Life and Times of a Strawberry” put on by the Save the Food campaign and Ad Council.

2).  Regularly monitoring refrigerator temperature is an effective way to ensure your food isn’t going bad.

3).  Learn about date labels. Date labels, such as “best by” and “use by,” most often refer to quality. Even though a date label has been exceeded, a food product is not necessarily unsafe.

To find tips and tricks for storing and preparing your food visit:  https://savethefood.com/storage and https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/index.html.

4).  Practice portion control and keep your leftovers.  By doing this, you can end up reducing your “waist” with both your body and food.  Whether you are eating out at a restaurant or have over prepared a meal at home, have a storage container on hand to have a tasty snack later in the day or week.

5).  Donate! Food banks and local food drives are always looking for more items. Since roughly 25% of all food and beverages purchased by families in the United States end up in the trash, there is an abundance of food being wasted that could be used to feed those in need. To learn more about where to donate food, you can visit: https://feedingthecarolinas.org/.

For additional tips on how to reduce your food waste at home, DHEC’s Guide for Reducing Food Waste at Home is an amazing resource!

Addressing the Systemic Causes of Food Waste

As a community, the most effective way to make sure food waste stops before it starts is to support local and national food waste reduction initiatives. There are no national regulations directing consistent food date labeling.  With 17% of restaurant meals going uneaten and 55% of leftovers not even being taken home, oversized portions are serious contributors to food waste and any comprehensive food waste program should take this into consideration. If your household or business is interested in addressing the issue of food waste, consider becoming a Don’t Waste Food SC Food Ambassador. DHEC has created a toolkit to get you started.

Do Your Part This Earth Day

Failure to manage food waste can lead to increased pollution.  Food waste ends up in landfills and food decomposition adds to the pollution generated at those sites.  Municipal solid waste landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the United States according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  You can help decrease those emissions by turning wasted food into compost or donating it to local food banks, food rescue organizations, and other non-profits.  This Earth Day do your part to reduce your personal food waste and spread the word about this increasingly important issue. Not only will you help protect the Earth that all of us share, you will save some money while you do it! For more information on how you can help tackle the problem of food waste, you can visit Don’t Waste Food SC!

 

DHEC Presents 2018 Community Star Awards to Santee Cooper, Brandon Burke

DHEC’s Office of Environmental Affairs recently presented Community Star Awards to the 2018 award winners. Awarded annually, Community Star recognizes a business, community organization, collaborative partnership, or individual in South Carolina that is going above and beyond environmental requirements to build better community relationships, promote environmental sustainability and resiliency, and/or improve quality of life for communities.

Santee Cooper was awarded the Business Community Star for their strong community presence and a proven track record of environmental excellence. They have several initiatives that have involved the community including the Camp Hall Commerce Park, the Give Oil for Energy Recovery (GOFER) project, and several educational initiatives. Santee Cooper engages citizens and communities throughout the state to promote environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Brandon Burke, a former restaurant general manager in the Charleston area, was awarded the Rising Star Community Star Award for his work with families in the surrounding community who were faced with children with cancer.  All of these efforts were taking place while his own son was battling cancer.

Brandon Burke

Join us in congratulating both of these well deserving recipients.

Community Star nomination period opens May 1. For more information, visit https://www.scdhec.gov/environment/community-star.

Helping S.C. Communities Increase Access to Physical Activity Opportunities

By Kelly Kavanaugh, MPH, CHES – Active Living Consultant, DHEC Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity 

Being physically active is one of the most important steps that people of all ages and abilities can take to improve their health. In South Carolina, the Active Community Environments (ACE) Special Project is taking action to improve access and opportunities for physical activity throughout the state.

The counties of Barnwell, Colleton, Greenwood, Lexington, Newberry, and Richland were recently recognized by Eat Smart Move More South Carolina and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control for increasing access to safe physical activity through the ACE Special Project.

ACE Recognition Event

Recognition event celebrating the six counties.

Bikeway in greenwood

A cyclist uses designated crossings in Greenwood.

Some of the project strategies included: installing road signs; creating bike lanes and bike boulevards; improving school safety with fencing and crossing guard equipment; and creating master bicycle and pedestrian plans for future community improvements. The six projects took place from May 2014 – June 2015 and lessons learned will be used to assist other communities that want to create physical activity options for their residents.

“We are so impressed with what these six ACE communities have accomplished and are excited to see their continued progress,” said Lori Phillips, MPH, MCHES, director of DHEC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. “We are working to implement similar efforts in up to 15 counties across the state.”

The focus of the ACE Special Project was for communities to consider the impact of community design on active living. The program aligns with Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities. One of the Call to Action’s five strategic goals is to design communities that make it safe and easy for people of all ages and abilities to walk.

The Riverwalk in Cayce improves access to walkable parks and paths,

The Riverwalk in Cayce improves access to walkable parks and paths,

“The Surgeon General’s Call to Action is a landmark event in the ongoing effort to establish promotion of physical activity as a major focus of public health in the United States,” said University of South Carolina professor Dr. Russ Pate, who is also Chair of the National Physical Activity Plan Alliance. “This Call to Action draws attention to the important health benefits of physical activity, in general, and walking in particular.”

Increasing people’s physical activity level can significantly reduce their risk of chronic disease and premature death while supporting positive mental health and healthy aging.

For more information on the ACE Special Project, please contact Kelly Kavanaugh at kavanak@dhec.sc.gov.