Students spreading a conservation message at the Florida State Fair with Betty Jo Tompkins (left), executive director of the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (right). (Photo courtesy of Linda Chion.)

By Linda Chion

Scraps from the dinner table caught the attention of Florida legislators who again this year set aside a week in April to promote the cause of food conservation.

Introduced by Gary M. Farmer (D-34) and adopted on March 8, the resolution recognizing April 4-8 as ‘Food Waste Prevention Week’ notes that “up to 40 percent of all food produced is thrown away, rather than eaten” and that “a family of four can save an average of $1,800 on uneaten food annually.”

But saving money should not be the sole concern of addressing food waste.

According to The World Counts, food waste is a problem “in a world where over 800 million people suffer from hunger and undernourishment,” and especially so when these people “could be fed by less than a quarter of the food lost or wasted in the U.S. and Europe.”

Closer to home, Betty Jo Tompkins of Brandon makes the case for food conservation as much as she pushes for the preservation of natural resources, which is her overriding mission as executive director of the Hillsborough Soil and Water Conservation District, which this month kicks off its Hillsborough 100 Conservation Challenge, now in its fifth year.

“By the year 2050, if we do not double food production and responsibly waste less food, we will find ourselves in a catastrophic situation with worldwide food shortages,” Tompkins said. “In other words, people will starve, and this is one of the many messages our action awareness projects address in our annual conservation challenge.”

Food Waste Prevention Week debuted in 2021 in California, with Florida following suit.

The Florida resolution adopted last month notes the water and energy wasted to produce and transport food that ultimately goes uneaten; that food waste in landfills decomposes slowly, releasing methane gas, which contributes to climate change; and that schools, colleges and universities play a special role in educating the next generation about food waste.

Toward that end, people of all ages can benefit from the teaching resources, webinars, workshops, tips, recipes, contests and calls to action available at and Visit Tompkins’ nonprofit at

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