Sarasota County households sought to participate in food waste study being undertaken by University of Florida researchers

County Extension staff says goal is to reduce materials that end up in landfill

Image courtesy UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County

University of Florida researchers are seeking help from Sarasota County households to get a better understanding of how homes generate and handle food waste, county staff has announced.

“A new citizen science project,” led locally by University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension  Sarasota County staff, “aims to enroll 100 Sarasota County households in a two-week study measuring how much food waste each home generates daily, along with the amount of food-related packaging discarded, a news release explains.

“Almost a quarter of our landfill waste stream is organic materials, most of which is our food waste,” said Randy Penn, waste reduction agent with UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, in the release. “Residents who participate in our study will play an important role in understanding how we dispose of our food waste.”

“Federal research has shown that a third of all food goes uneaten, and a Sarasota County Extension study found that the average Sarasota County household generates nearly 19 pounds of compostable food waste each month, most of which winds up in a landfill,” the release points out. While home or community composting of food waste “could greatly reduce the amount sent to landfill, few households take advantage of that option,” the release notes.

The Extension food waste study seeks to engage more households in reducing food waste, especially through composting, the release says. A companion study is planned in Alachua County.

Members of Sarasota County households of all sizes who are interested in joining the study may start the process by visiting and completing a short form, the release points out.

Extension staff members then will distribute to the participants “a food waste monitoring ‘kit,’ including a small receptacle for daily food waste collection, a scale to weigh the waste, and a kitchen packet to log daily information,” the release explains.

Kits will be made available to study participants from April 1 to April 5 at the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County office, which is located at Twin Lakes Park (6700 Clark Road) in Sarasota. Business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Members of households in the study will log their daily food waste production and food packaging discards from April 9 through April 22, the release points out. “Extension will collect the results, as well as related information on food waste attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.”

For more information about the study or becoming a participant, contact Randy Penn at or 941-861-9829.