ST. CLOUD -- Americans waste a lot of food, to the tune of billions of pounds a year and District 742 is trying to help tackle the issue locally.

The district -- especially Westwood Elementary -- has taken several steps in the past few years, enough so to have caught the eye of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The district has focused on education, partnering with food shelves and non-profits, while encouraging student choice as part of their efforts to handle food waste.

According to the MPCA, food production costs around $165-billion nationwide. So while we're not wasting all of it, Americans trash billions of dollars a year.

MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop says she's heard a lot about Westwood since she's started her new role. She says after her in person visit, she's impressed.

"I had heard a lot about Westwood having a very advanced program for tackling food waste. And I wanted to see it first hand. What I saw today -- these kids -- know how to handle this and how to make a difference."

Reducing food waste is one of the issues Governor Tim Walz wants to handle in his tenure as Governor. Bishop says that's part of why she was at Westwood, to see what works, and what may need more help.

"Governor Walz is looking at a program that would give more funding in an effort to reduce food waste. So I wanted to look at what's working, and whether more funds in the system would help schools like Westwood."

Bishop also echos the point that Americans waste a ton of money on perfectly good food we throw in the trash.

Getting food from the farms to our dinner tables uses a huge amount of labor and energy. Up to 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, 50 percent of land, and drains 80 percent of all freshwater consumed country. It's estimated around 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten.

All that means food waste takes up the biggest proportion of waste in our landfills.

More From AM 1240 WJON