Quantifying Produce Waste at Regional Food Hubs & Evaluating Community Garden Potential to Provide Charitable Produce at Scale

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Project Summary

More than two billion pounds of produce were received by Feeding America in 2021(1); however, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin (FAEW) presently faces the problem of produce needing to be moved out of their warehouse within 24 hours of intake. It is presently unknown how much of that produce is wasted, producing low confidence in the storage capacity of produce. Furthermore, there are more than 29,000 community gardens in 100 of the largest domestic cities(3) that may be unknown to respective local communities. Community gardens produce 3.15 pounds of produce within 11 square feet in one growing season, equating to 20.4 individual servings per one 90 day period(3,2); whereas twenty billion pounds of produce discarded on domestic farms, annually(4). It might be possible to leverage community gardens to feed food insecure people at scale. Such a transition would save food hubs like FAEW money and resources that could be used in other operational capacities. Finally, visualizing an accurate number of existing community gardens will increase the provision of resources to a larger audience, and display areas that may need gardens that have not been established yet.


Aim 1

Quantify the amount of produce wasted by FAEW using data integration and management.

  • Collect FAEW historical product intake and output data specific to produce.
  • Collect average shelf life information for each item specific to how long that item has been held at FAEW’s food bank.

Aim 2

Compare historic produce output between FAEW and community gardens.

  • Reuse FAEW historical product output data specific to produce.
  • Collect historical output data on community gardens.

Aim 3

Visualizing community gardens regardless of affiliation.

  • Mapping which gardens currently exist, including their status, affiliation, and information about what grows there using publicly available data.
  • Implement continuous data acquisition such that active status and new gardens can be mapped in real time.