SARASOTA COUNTY – University of Florida researchers want help from Sarasota County households to get a better understanding of how homes generate and handle food waste.
A new citizen science project, led locally by 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.

“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. “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. While home or community composting food waste could greatly reduce the amount sent to landfill, few households take advantage of that option.
The Extension food waste study aims to shed some light on the process of getting more homes engaged in reducing food waste and involved in composting, starting with a closer look at households in Sarasota County, along with a companion study in Alachua County.
Sarasota County households of all sizes who are interested in joining the study can start the process by visiting and completing a short form.
Extension then will distribute to selected 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.
Kits will be made available to study participants April 1-5 at the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County office, 6700 Clark Road, Sarasota, during business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Households in the study then will log their daily food waste production and food packaging discards from April 9 through April 22. 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.