HELENA – EPA’s newly appointed Region 8 Administrator, Gregory Sopkin, will present the Montana Department of Environmental Quality with its Food Recovery Challenge award in Great Falls June 12, recognizing the agency’s work to prevent food waste across Montana.
DEQ is one of two winners in EPA’s Region 8, along with the full-service kitchen at the Boulder County Jail in Colorado.
“Food waste is a growing problem for people and the environment nationwide,” said DEQ Director Shaun McGrath. “We’re honored that Administrator Sopkin is recognizing this important work on his first visit to Montana in his new role. This award represents the hard work of DEQ and – most importantly – the work of our project partners in both cities and small communities across the state.”
As administrator of EPA’s Denver-based Region 8, Sopkin oversees environmental protection efforts in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and 27 tribal nations. Sopkin will present the Food Recovery Challenge award to DEQ at the Gardens from Garbage Westside Orchard Garden in Great Falls.
“EPA continues to work toward a national goal of reducing food waste and loss by 50 percent by 2030, and our partners at the Montana DEQ are a big part of the progress we are making,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “It is especially exciting to see so many organizations and businesses connecting to save food and reduce waste here in Great Falls. These efforts offer a compelling example of how bringing people together can result in a stronger, more-connected community and a healthier environment.”
The nonprofit Gardens from Garbage program composts food waste from grocery stores and other community partners using the Japanese “Bokashi” method – a fermentation process that is low-odor compared with traditional composting. The garden is also an outdoor classroom where children and their families learn to grow nutritious and affordable food. Last year, nearly 200 kids participated in the “Summer School in the Garden” program. Fresh produce was donated back to organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, the Salvation Army, the Cameron Family Center/Rescue Mission and the Center for Mental Health.
DEQ enabled the Gardens from Garbage program by offering its expertise in large-scale composting. DEQ and its partners have created food waste recovery opportunities across Montana, including grants to schools to purchase food waste bins, providing technical assistance and training to composters, and through general support of food recovery activities. Through partners such as Gardens from Garbage, Montana diverted 829 tons of wasted food from landfills in 2017.
In addition to receiving EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge award at the June 12 event, DEQ will present Gardens from Garbage with a Montana Food Waste Reduction award.
“Gardens from Garbage is creating life-changing experiences for local children while tackling one of our state’s most important environmental challenges,” said Dusti Johnson, the DEQ Materials Management Specialist who headed the agency’s work with Gardens from Garbage. “This is what happens when community partners put their heads, hands and hearts together and DEQ is honored to be a partner.”
DEQ will make reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who wish to participate in the event. If you require an accommodation, please contact Paul Driscoll at 406-444-6421 or firstname.lastname@example.org at least three days before the meeting.
What: EPA Food Recovery Challenge Award Presentation
When: Wednesday, June 12, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Where: Westside Orchard Garden, 400 16th St. SW, Great Falls, Montana
More about Gardens from Garbage: gardensfromgarbage.org
More about the EPA Food Recovery Challenge: bit.ly/epafoodrecoverychallenge