The Food Bank of Delaware and Kenny Family ShopRite stores have both signed on to an agreement with the EPA to donate and divert as much excess food as possible.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Food Recovery Challenge urges businesses and other groups to recycle unused food.  EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin says food waste is the largest category of material going into landfills in  the U.S.  

"Today is America Recycles Day, and with Thanksgiving just a week away, this is an excellent time to raise awareness of this important issue."  In a landfill, leftover food decomposes rapidly, becoming a significant source of methane, a greenhouse gas.

The Kenny Family ShopRites started a composting pilot program earlier this year, and will now expand that program to all their stores.  "We have been working with the Food Bank of Delaware and other charities to provide food to those in need since we opened in 1995," said Melissa Kenny.  "Through the Food Recovery Challenge we are finding new ways to reduce costs, reduce our environmental footprint, and help those across Delaware through increased food donations."

Although it's called "food waste" much of the food that had been sent to landfills was still safe to eat even though it had to come off of store shelves.  The EPA says just three percent of the 34 million tons of food waste generated in 2010 was sent to hunger relief organizations.  So, in addition to the compost program, some of ShopRite's food that is still good for consumption will be sent to the Food Bank.

The Food Bank of Delaware's president and CEO Patricia Beebe calls the cooperative effort with ShopRite a win-win.  "By diverting healthy, fresh foods from the landfill we're able to protect our environment, but most importantly we're able to get good foods into the hands of those who need it most."