When you hear the term “food waste,” you may think of scraps left on a plate, unwanted by picky children (or adults!) that ultimately end up in the trash.

True, that’s part of it, but food waste is a much, much bigger problem. In fact, it accounts for nearly a quarter (22%) of all landfill volume, according to ReFED.

The food filling up a good portion of landfills goes beyond picky eaters at home, and into schools, restaurants and businesses that waste food on the daily.

With a 15.3% food insecurity rate in Marion County, there is most definitely a need. The challenge sometimes is accessibility and simple knowledge of where to turn for help.

So what can be done about food waste in Indiana? Here we offer three options:

Have a food plan

Building meals from what you have on hand. Cutting down on portion sizes. Saving uneaten food to have another day. Bringing your own container to a restaurant to take home what you can’t finish … these are all ways you can reduce food waste right here where you live.

Donate excess food

Indiana Recycling Coalition, in 2015, began the Indiana Food Scrap Initiative which seeks to identify gaps and opportunities for food waste recovery in central Indiana. A partial list of where to donate food includes:

Learn about composting

Not only can you “backyard compost” your own table scraps and turn them into nutrient-rich soil for your home garden, but you can also … turn to services such as Green with Indy, to pick up and haul your food waste away, where it is turned into soil.

Earth Mama, a certified woman-owned business, provides residential and commercial pick-up. She offers a “Zero-free setup” for residential pick-ups, including bucket, countertop bin and compostable liners.

Indiana Recycling provides a list of compost haulers in Indiana.

For backyard composting, Indiana Organic Gardeners’ Association offers this article on composting tips, problems you may encounter and possible solutions.

Having a food plan, donating excess food and composting the food scraps you do have, are all ways we can work together as Hoosiers to make an effort toward less food waste.