Get Food Smart TN seeks to promote using food wisely and enhance the sustainability of Tennessee’s food resources.

Get Food Smart TN is Tennessee’s initiative to reduce food waste throughout the state. We provide education and outreach to Tennesseans to help them reduce food waste in their homes. We also assist restaurants, schools, government entities, organizations, grocery stores, agriculture, and other businesses in starting and enhancing food waste initiatives.


The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), adopted the 2025 Solid Waste and Materials Management Plan. Objective 4 of the plan is to increase diversion of organics through encouraging the reuse, composting, and beneficial use of organics, as well as implement source reduction efforts, to decrease the disposal of these materials.


October 6, 2016: TDEC hosted a full day stakeholder event; comprised of a mid-day roundtable discussion, as well as an evening public outreach event in coordination with local, Middle TN partners to provide awareness around food waste. The goal of the October 6 roundtable discussion was to engage local governments, business and industry, educational institutions, and non-profits, to help the state identify opportunities and obstacles to food waste reduction and diversion in middle Tennessee. Turnout for the roundtable discussion was very successful, with approximately 40 representatives from an eclectic mix of organizations, including; Bridgestone Arena, Mayor’s Office, TN Chamber of Commerce, Waste Management, State Hospitality Association, and Whole Foods.

The same day as the roundtable, TDEC held an education and outreach event in cooperation with Nashville Metro Government, Nashville Farmers Market, Mayor’s Office, Second Harvest Food Bank, The Nashville Food Project, NRDC, and The Compost Company. The event was hosted at the Nashville Farmers Market downtown and featured a screening of the film “Just Eat It!”, local exhibitors, announcements, and food options from locally gleaned or donated fruits and vegetables.

TDEC’s Office of Policy and Planning in coordination with the Office of Sustainable Practices, released an overview of current efforts in Southeastern States to address wasted food and food waste reduction upstream of composting. It also provided 9 recommendations of ways in which TDEC could address food waste upstream of composting. These recommendations overlapped with a number of recommendations from the roundtable event, including; development of funding opportunities and a recognition program. There were also a number of more specific recommendations that came out of this, like expanding donor liability protections.

In late 2016, several TDEC staff started exploring the idea of a food waste related recognition program.


Throughout 2017 TDEC staff worked internally within state government to develop a Tennessee-specific, statewide recognition program3, some of these actions included:

• Receiving branding exception to develop a unique logo

• Permission to develop a dedicated website

• Development of a unique logo

• Created the program framework

• Provided stakeholder input opportunity (roughly 1.5 months) on the program framework. The input

opportunity was a survey, comprised of 12 questions, to which TDEC received 62 responses. The biggest

takeaways were:

o Respondents recommended 5-10 criteria as required for acceptance into program.

o Recommended 4 categories of entities to recognize.

o Criteria should be a mix of quantitative and qualitative actions.


TDEC formally launched Get Food Smart TN in April 2018.


January 2019: Hosted our first workshop, “Educate to Reduce Food Waste”. This workshop included a roundtable to identify additional resources that TDEC could develop and provide to assist in continued reduction of food waste, and increased food diversion and recovery. This led to the creation of a “Road Show” to assist cities throughout Tennessee with food waste goals.

April 2019: Co-hosted a panel discussion with Clean Memphis at Memphis Made Brewing Company and convened with a number of organizations to talk strategies for furthering solutions to food waste in Memphis.

June 2019: Co-hosted a Restaurant Roundtable Discussion and Consumer Lunch and Learn with green|spaces in Chattanooga.


We formally launched our Technical Assistance offerings.

Get Food Smart TN Program Lead

Ashley Cabrera

Creative Services Coordinator