Watching for dropped bites from farm to fork, federal officials will unveil a new effort to reduce food waste in the U.S.

The U.S. Food Waste Challenge, a joint effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, is recruiting the support of producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities and other government agencies to reduce food waste and loss, recover food for consumption and recycle discarded food for other uses including animal feed, composting and energy generation.

To participate in the challenge, companies will list the tasks they will do to help reduce, recover, or recycle food waste, according to a news release from USDA.

At the launch event, the USDA, EPA, and founding U.S. Food Waste Challenge participants will talk about their commitments and encourage others to join with them in the challenge, according to the release.

In 2010, 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people’s stomachs, according to the release.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe will headline the June 4 event in Washington, D.C. Also invited, according to the release, were representatives from: Rio Farms, the growing division of Oxnard, Calif.-based Gills Onions LLC; Unilever; General Mills; the Food Waste Reduction Alliance; Feeding America; and Rock and Wrap it Up!

“We’re honored and excited to be a part of this program,” said Nikki Rodoni, director of sustainability for Gills Onions/Rio Farms.

The message that the company is sharing at the June 4 event, she said, is the recent work on the company’s 7-acre composting program. The company also has been touted for its energy-generating anaerobic digester at its Oxnard processing plant.

“The big part of our program is that we’re working with these goals in a collaborative attitude,” she said. “We reaching out to other ag companies to share best practices to understand what everybody is doing,” she said.

Information about the initiative is available at the USDA website at or by following the effort on Twitter by using the hashtag #FoodWasteChallenge.