UAlbany Contributes to NSF-Funded National Research Network to Address the Challenge of Reducing Wasted Food

Produce vegetables sit in plastic baskets on a dirt floor.

ALBANY, N.Y (February 1, 2022) — In the United States, 40 percent of all food produced is never eaten, resulting in lost resources, economic costs to businesses and households, decreased food security and negative climate impacts. As the U.S. moves toward an ambitious goal to significantly reduce food waste by 2030, a team at the University at Albany School of Public Health is conducting work as a part of a multiscale research network to make the food system sustainable, equitable and resilient.

Led by American University, RECIPES (Resilient, Equitable, and Circular Innovations with Partnership and Education Synergies) is the first national academic research network on wasted food in the United States. The network is deepening the understanding of how the causes of wasted food are interconnected and how they intersect with other regional systems beyond food. It is a $15 million, five-year project funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation that engages communities in various locations around the United States.

As a partner institution for RECIPES, the UAlbany School of Public Health team —led by Associate Professor Xiaobo Xue Romeiko— is collecting system-level datasets and developing quantitative models for quantifying environmental health impacts of wasted food and for assessing benefits and effects of management strategies. Additionally, the team is investigating potential impacts of policies, technological and behavioral interventions on the amount of food rescued or distributed and the associated effects on health and the environment. They are also assessing how the food donation systems responded to changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and are identifying strategies capable of improving the resilience of food systems.

“We are excited to join RECIPES to reimagine and redesign the food systems. Our UAlbany team specifically focuses on creating cutting-edge environmental health assessment methods and evaluating food donation systems,” says Romeiko. “Our work will address fundamental knowledge gaps in system modeling and provide novel insights towards preventing food waste, increasing population access to nutritious food, and achieving circular economy.”

Additional UAlbany researchers include Beth Feingold (Department of Environmental Health Sciences), Akiko Hosler (Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics), and Christine Bozlak (Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior).


The project, Multiscale Resilient, Equitable and Circular Innovations with Partnership and Education Synergies for Sustainable Food Systems, or RECIPES, was awarded under NSF’s Sustainable Regional Systems Research Networks program. NSF research networks create knowledge and solutions that enhance sustainability, equity and resilience of regional systems in the United States. To learn more, visit the RECIPES website.