The government's food waste challenge is a means to improve food security and conserve natural resources, the U.S.D.A said.

NEW YORK — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the first national goal to reduce food waste — 50% by 2030 of the approximately 133 billion lbs of product that is lost or wasted in the United States each year. The public-private partnership aims to improve food security conserve natural resources. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy made the announcements one week before the United Nations General Assembly gathers in New York to address sustainable production and consumption practices.

The partnership includes charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments.

“Food retailers are community minded, neighborhood focused and intimately connected to the lives of their shoppers; as such they work closely with their customers on those issues touching both the heart strings and the purse strings,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and chief executive officer of the Food Marketing Institute. ‘Reducing food waste at all levels in the food chain — farm, factory, store and home — is certainly one of those issues with economic and emotional appeal.”

 Jonathan Mayes, senior vice-president of the Albertsons supermarket chain, said the company has focused its food waste reduction efforts on source reduction in addition to providing food for hunger relief organizations and animal feed.

 Jason Wadsworth, sustainability manager at Wegmans Food Markets, said food waste is a critical issue facing food retailers.

“Recognizing food recovery as an important approach to addressing hunger, protecting our natural resources, and minimizing costs, we applaud the establishment of a national goal for food waste reduction,” he said. “Wegmans is proud to stand with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency on this important initiative.”