Get Food Smart TN

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) launched a new initiative at the 28th Annual Recycling Coalition this past March in Franklin, TN, a statewide program ‘Get Food Smart TN‘. The program is dedicated to educating, and influencing the public in how to have a healthy diet, and staying with those diets.  Austin Peay University was big factor in the program becoming recognized, and has grown from there.

The first program like this in Tennessee, ‘Get Food Smart’ goes side by side with TDECS broader mission which is …to reduce harmful air emission and wasted water, energy Get Food Smart, Mentally Physically Happyand land resources.”  The first university and body of partners, Austin Peay University, is joined by places such as Country Music Hall of Fame‘, ‘The Compost Fairy‘, ‘Kroger‘, ‘Lupi’s Pizza Pies‘, ‘Music City Center‘, ‘The Nashville Food Project‘, ‘Nourish Knoxville‘ ‘Prescott Middle School‘, the ‘Society of St Andrew‘ & more...  Restaurants, non-profits, Government agencies, schools, grocers, and agricultural communities are all eligible to submit entries to be apart of th
e program.  

According to Alexandra Wills Director of APSU Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, Austin Peay is intentionally taking steps toward reducing their impact on the environment. Their latest effort is a focused on repurposing food-waste and is a win-win for their composting efforts. In addition, this new concentration has presented students with hands on learning opportunities. Efforts by other program participants include donating food resources to anti-hunger campaigns, garden-to-table programs and composting food scraps.

Over time the ‘Get Food Smart TN’ program will include both financial courses and workshops for all, new and long time members. If your looking at moving to the area, the houses available on the front page of the website, are only more desirable with the knowledge you will be welcomed in by members of local programs such as ‘Get Food Smart TN’.  But not only locals, we encourage everyone to participate in the overall mission of reducing, recovering and diverting food waste wherever possible. One organization will be recognized at the Tennessee Food Smart Organization of the Year in 2019.  Leading the charge of addressing food recovery in the state, The Get Smart Food TN campaign aims to encourage all Tennesseans and hopefully, eventually the globe, to “buy what you need, eat what you buy and share what you don’t” From the farmers who grow the food, and the homes that prepare it, everyone alike will benefit from reducing food waste.

According to statistics, roughly 50% of what we by for salads is thrown out. Almost 25% of fruits and vegetables are thrown out. Bread and bakery items are not far behind with nearly 25% of these being wasted. Meat and fish weigh tin with 10% overall waste.

‘Get Food Smart TN’ has some practical techniques that everyone can apply in order to reduce food waste.


Meal Planning
Start by take inventory of the items in your pantry and freezer. Keep a meal planner. It is a good idea to create a file with easy, fast and fool-proof recipes. Creating theme night dinners can also increase interest in meals and reduce waste. Include the family in meal planning by asking for suggestions and making note of family favorites.  Always plan around work and activity schedules.

Meal planning reduces food waste, saves time and money results in healthier eating and can even lower stress.


Food Purchasing
It is helpful to use a system to identify over purchased foods in order to avoid excess waste. By implementing a “just in time” purchasing system you can make sure to only purchase what you need, when you need it.  Always plan before taking a trip to the grocery store; make a list and don’t stray from it

Produce Selection
Look for items that are reduced for quick sale. Buy “ugly” produce and take advantage of local farmer’s markets.

Buy Local
Did you know that most food travels 4-7 days before reaching stores? On average food travels 1300 – 1500 miles before hitting the shelves. Most states in the US buy 90% of its food from other states

Food Preservation
Try canning, freezing or vacuum sealing and dehydrating. Freezer bags are great tools for easy storage when freezing.  Also look for plastic and aluminum containers.

Did you know that you can freeze the following items?




Homemade Pancakes or Waffles









What can you dehydrate?




Food Reuse/Repurposing

Reusing leftovers can save reduce waste and save money. With a little bit of creativity, you can repurpose leftovers and use them for other meals. If you plan meals to accommodate the use of excess food you’ll soon find that you are wasting less and utilizing more.


Donating or sharing food with food banks, local charities, neighbors, co-workers and those in need, not only helps to reduce waste but helps to foster a sense of community.