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Classified in: Environment
Subject: Survey

MITRE-Gallup Survey Finds U.S. Households Waste 6.2 Cups of Edible Food Every Week on Average

The MITRE-Gallup State of Food Waste in America (SFWA) survey reveals new data and trends gathered from more than 9,000 households nationally. The 50-state survey of U.S. households includes user-reported data of daily food waste to investigate how much edible food is being tossed out and why. On average, American households are throwing away 6.2 cups of food per week, with leftover waste/spoilage and overreliance on date labels identified as two of the primary contributors to this waste.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 30% to 40% of food in the United States is wasted. ReFED estimates this waste is costing residents $310 billion as otherwise edible food fills up landfills and generates greenhouse gas emissions. When asked what motivates them to reduce food waste, Americans rank saving money as the top motivating factor. Eighty-two percent report saving money motivates them a fair amount or a great deal. Reducing environmental impacts (40%) ranks lower than the other motivators; however, the MITRE-Gallup survey reveals there is awareness of the environmental implications. Fifty-five percent of consumers believe climate change is a consequence of food waste.

"We knew about half of food waste occurs at home, but we didn't have a good measure of household food waste," said Laura Leets, Ph.D., senior principal scientist, MITRE. "MITRE developed a first-of-its-kind app to measure household food waste and launched a national study with Gallup to better understand why and how households waste food, and what would motivate them to prevent waste. Our findings are valuable to organizations creating waste-reduction initiatives as well as consumers who want to save money, maximize available food resources for benefit of disadvantaged communities, and address related environmental consequences."

The State of Food Waste in America by the numbers:

"As the holidays approach, and people are worried about the high cost of meals, it is a good time to consider how we can all save money and reduce food waste at the same time," said Dr. Jay Schnitzer, chief medical officer and corporate chief engineer, MITRE. "This research is being driven via MITRE's Independent Research and Development Program, which pursues evidence-based solutions that will work in the real world."

Four tips to reduce food waste:

"Gallup is proud to partner with MITRE to create the largest nationally representative study about food waste in the United States," said Ilana Ron-Levey, managing director, Gallup. "The first step in mitigating the negative financial and environmental impacts is understanding how we all contribute to wasted food and how we can join together to reduce waste."

Measuring food waste?there's a free app for that

MITRE researchers designed an app that consumers can use to track their own food waste. In conjunction with the MITRE-Gallup survey, more than 250 participants tested the MITRE Food Waste Tracker app, recording their daily food waste for a week. Some people estimated their waste in cups and tablespoons, while others used a digital scale for more accurate measurements. Based on their experience, MITRE has updated the app, which is available free of charge on the Apple and Google Play app stores.

About the Survey

The SFWA survey was commissioned by MITRE's Independent Research and Development Program and conducted online and by mail across the United States between June 21, 2023, and August 23, 2023. A detailed description of the survey methodology is included in the report.

For more survey details, including food waste reduction tips, please visit The State of Food Waste in America report at https://sites.mitre.org/household-food-waste/.


MITRE's mission-driven teams are dedicated to solving problems for a safer world. Through our public-private partnerships and federally funded R&D centers, and independent R&D program, we work across government and in partnership with industry, academia, and other research organizations to tackle challenges to the safety, stability, and well-being of our nation. Learn more at mitre.org.

About Gallup

Gallup delivers analytics and advice to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems. Combining more than 80 years of experience with its global reach, Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviors of employees, customers, students, and citizens than any other organization in the world.

Quote Sheet: View from MITRE's Food Waste Research Partners

Organizations leading the way in food waste reduction and climate change generously shared their insights with MITRE researchers and contributed to the final report.


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