Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

First Advisor

Meredith T. Niles

Second Advisor

Brendan Fisher

Third Advisor

Katharine "Kit" Anderson


Vermont, Act 148, food waste, food insecurity, Essex county, Chittenden county


It is estimated that as much as 40% of the food produced in the United States goes to waste (Hall, Guo, Dore, & Chow, 2009), and much is still edible when it is disposed of. Simultaneously, the United States faces significant food insecurity, with an estimated 12.7% of the population meeting the criteria in 2015 (Coleman-Jensen, Rabbit, Gregory, & Singh, 2016). In 2012, Vermont passed the Universal Recycling of Solid Waste Act, or Act 148, which bans recyclable materials from landfills by 2020 by mandating their recovery (VT DEC, 2014). Because the law includes edible food waste and prioritizes food donation, it has the potential to increase donations to food-recovery and -distribution programs. I evaluate whether or not Act 148 has led to increased food donations; if so, whether its impact has been equal in diverse regions of the state; and if an increase in food availability has resulted in increased food access. I compare Chittenden and Essex counties, which differ greatly in population size and density, urban development, and rates of food insecurity, through a series of semi-structured interviews with directors of food-aid organizations in both counties. Of the generally larger and well-supported Chittenden organizations, 100% had heard of Act 148 and 75% had seen increases in donations as a result. The smaller organizations in Essex, serving populations with higher food insecurity, had seen no changes since the law’s implementation. These findings lead to the conclusion that the impact has not been equal across the state and has not affected the most food-insecure populations.