Tag Archives: money

WalletHub: Milwaukee in top 10 cities most affected by ‘Trumpcare’

Source: WalletHub

With the average health-insurance premium estimated to rise 15-20 percent in the next two years and federal tax credits expected to decrease under the recently proposed American Health Care Act, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of cities most affected by the GOP health plan, which it referred to as “TrumpCare.”

To gauge the impact of the Republican-proposed health plan on people who buy their own insurance, WalletHub’s analysts compared 457 U.S. cities based on the differences in premium subsidies that the average household would receive under “Obamacare” and “Trumpcare.”

The impact on Milwaukee:
 

  • Average Obamacare Premium Subsidy: $5,707
  • Average Trumpcare Premium Subsidy: $5,000
  • Subsidy Difference: -$707
  • Milwaukee ranks 78th most affected overall and 10th most affected among large cities.

On the web

https://wallethub.com/edu/cities-most-affected-by-trumpcare/33588/

Wis. Supreme Court urged to bar judges from cases involving their donors

The Wisconsin Supreme Court this week postponed an open meeting about whether to bar judges, including those on the high court, from hearing cases involving people who donated significantly to their election campaigns.

The Supreme Court, whose 5-2 majority leans conservative, was scheduled to take up a petition on March 16 from 54 retired Wisconsin judges pushing for the rule change.

But the open meeting was postponed until April 20 after Brian McGrath, a lawyer for the conservative group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, emailed the court to say his group intends to show that the petition “should be dismissed without a further and wasteful investment of judicial and public resources” and plans to submit its arguments in writing in the next 30 days.

Jenni Dye, a research director at the liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, said in a statement she’s not surprised the court accommodated the group.

“The coalition of retired judges asking for this rule change were concerned about corruption or the appearance of corruption on the court,” she said. “That the court would go along with this request from a conservative group is further proof the rules need to change to insulate the justices from influence of special interests.”

The institute’s president, Rick Esenberg, said the court is doing what it should by waiting for input from various points of view.

“What could possibly be the problem with taking the time to listen to a petition from someone with another perspective?” he said.

Esenberg said his group plans to argue that tightening the rules would inhibit free speech by steering individual supporters away from contributing to campaigns and amplifying special interest groups.

“Speech cannot happen without resources,” he said. “If we’re going to have elections, we need to be able to have a public conversation.”

The postponement came the day a national campaign finance watchdog group, the Campaign Legal Center, sent a letter to the court urging it to adopt stricter rules, arguing that Wisconsin lags behind other states in preventing judicial conflicts of interest.

The Brennan Center for Justice also sent the court a letter this week urging a review of the rules.

Currently, donors can give up to $20,000 to Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates and a court can’t force judges to recuse themselves from cases with possible conflicts of interest.

Former Milwaukee County Judge Michael Skwierawski, who helped write the petition, said he’s troubled by the influx of money to judicial campaigns.

“It puts judges in a difficult position when all that extra money is forced on campaigns,” he said, adding that even judges who act in good faith risk having the appearance of their independence tarnished.

“Someone cannot simply pay for a judge’s election and expect the public to believe the judge could be fair on a case involving that party,” he said.

The petition suggested requiring judges to recuse themselves if they have received campaign donations from any parties in the case of varying amounts, ranging from $10,000 for state Supreme Court justices to $500 for municipal judges. The proposal would include in the total any expenditures made to influence the outcome of an election, including those to third parties, though Esenberg expressed doubts about whether this would be viable. If more than four judges are recused for a case, the proposal suggests allowing an appeals court judge or retired Supreme Court justices to hear a case to ensure four judges.

Candidates currently are also free to coordinate with outside interest groups who spend money on so-called issue advocacy but stop short of endorsing specific candidates. That stems from a 2015 Wisconsin Supreme Court case centered on whether Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign illegally coordinated with outside interest groups.

Now-retired Justice David Prosser, one of three conservative judges to halt the investigation, acknowledged at the time that some groups under investigation had helped his campaign, but he refused to recuse himself, saying the spending happened years ago.

 

Election commission eyes spending by group backing Trump

The Federal Election Commission is raising questions about last-minute election expenditures by a pro-Donald Trump super PAC that has already acknowledged making mistakes regarding the sources and amounts of its contributions and whose contributors include an L.L. Bean heiress.

The FEC contends the Making Maine Great Again political action committee may have violated rules that give PACs 24 hours to report expenditures of $1,000 or more in the two to 20 days before an election. Previously, the FEC asked the PAC to clarify contributions that appeared to be too large.

L.L. Bean heiress Linda Bean is an outspoken conservative who ran for Congress in 1988 and 1992 and has opposed gay rights legislation, abortion rights and gun control. Her contributions garnered calls for a national boycott of the Freeport-based outdoors retailer and a tweet from Trump supporting the company.

The PAC originally reported Linda Bean donated $60,000. Revised reports show she contributed $25,000 while her sister gave $20,000. Another $20,000 came from five other previously undisclosed donors including a Westbrook-based company and the PAC’s chairman.

The Associated Press in January brought to light that the FEC was questioning whether Making Maine Great Again was properly registered as a super PAC.

PAC Chairman David Jones contends its paperwork, which it later revised, is now “crystal clear” and all of the donations were legal. He suggested there was confusion over the source of donations because “they came in through wire transfers with no name attached.”

“The FEC has reviewed it and given us their blessing,” Jones said. “They’re 100 percent in our court. They agree it’s not a problem, no wrongdoing whatsoever.”

The FEC has the power to bring penalties but infrequently does. It assessed nearly $600,000 in civil penalties in 2016 compared with $5.5 million in 2006.

In a letter dated Sunday, the FEC said the PAC failed to promptly report $2,250 in last-minute expenditure reports for Atlantic Coast Radio and Tim Pro Media.

“Although the commission may take further action concerning this matter, your prompt response will be taken into consideration,” FEC analyst Kevin Fortkiewicz wrote.

Jones said the PAC will “clarify two small transactions” immediately.

The PAC reported $70,000 in expenditures. That includes roughly $51,000 for radio ads, website work and television ads to Atlantic Coast Radio, ACR host Ray Richardson and a solely owned company he used to buy pro-Trump Time Warner Cable ads for the PAC.

The anti-Trump Grab Your Wallet campaign includes L.L. Bean on its list of companies to boycott. It called for Linda Bean to leave the company’s board.

Linda Bean, who remains on the board, didn’t respond to requests for comment Tuesday. She previously said she donated to the PAC after hearing about vandalism of its signs.

L.L. Bean tries to stay out of politics, and its leaders have made individual donations to both major political parties.

Things to know about Wisconsin’s state budget deficit

The budget Gov. Scott Walker submitted to the Legislature in February balances, as it’s required to under state law. But when that same budget is measured using generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, the picture is much different.

With that measurement, the state’s true budget deficit would grow to more than $2 billion by 2019 — the largest it’s been since 2012.

HOW COULD THE BUDGET BE MISLEADING?

For the budget to be truly balanced, the state would have to cut spending by the amount of the GAAP deficit _ the shortfall when the budget is translated into GAAP.

“There are a lot of budget manipulations you can use to make the budget look better,” said Daniel Neely, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor who specializes in governmental accounting.

Namely, the budget is prepared in a way that counts millions and sometimes billions of dollars the state is temporarily holding for taxpayers and smaller units of government as its own.

WHY DOES A DEFICIT MATTER?

A large deficit tends to mean cash reserves are low, which means the state is vulnerable to any kind of economic downtown or political shock, said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, a nonpartisan advocacy group.

A large deficit is also one of the reasons credit agencies haven’t raised Wisconsin’s bond ratings in years.

WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH WALKER?

When he was running for governor in 2010, Walker vowed on his campaign website to “require the use of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) to balance every state budget, just as we require every local government and school district to do.”

During his first few years in office, he did chip away at the deficit, which had ballooned to $3 billion in 2010 under former Gov. Jim Doyle. By 2014, the deficit had dropped to $1.4 billion.

But it inched back up the following year and hovers around $1.7 billion in the most recent estimate. If Walker’s budget is adopted, the deficit would reach $2.1 billion — $365 for every person in the state — by 2019.

HOW DO OTHER STATES COMPARE?

Wisconsin is one of only a handful of states with deficits when using GAAP. It was one of 10 states in 2014, which is the most recent data available from the Department of Administration.

And Wisconsin had the third largest deficit that year, after California and Illinois, two states with well-known, perpetual funding woes.

There are a few contributing factors, Berry said. Wisconsin provides more aid to local governments and tends to solve cash flow issues through excess withholding of income taxes, both of which increase the deficit.

WHAT DOES WALKER THINK ABOUT IT?

Walker’s spokesman, Tom Evenson, did not comment on the fact that Walker’s budget would add to the GAAP deficit. Instead, Evenson highlighted that Walker will have decreased the deficit by more than 30 percent, from $3 billion in 2011 to around $2 billion in 2019.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER LAWMAKERS?

The CPA Caucus, a group of Republican lawmakers who are also certified public accountants, has proposed requiring the state to reduce the deficit or use GAAP several times in the past. Caucus member Sen. Chris Kapenga said it’s possible they will try again this session.

“If I were in the governor’s spot, and I had some things I wanted to get pushed through, it’s an easy way to get what I need done,” Kapenga said. “But we’re saying, ‘Let’s fix the accounting of this so that people know this is how much (that’s) actually going to be spent.’”

Wisconsin company vies to build Trump’s wall along US-Mexico border

A Dodge County construction company is the lone Wisconsin firm bidding on the federal government’s call for designing and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Brownsville-based Michels Corp. is bidding to build a wall spanning the roughly 2,000-mile border, the Fond du Lac Reporter reported. The wall is controversial for multiple reasons dealing with human rights, foreign relations and environmental concerns.

About 265 firms had responded to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s pre-solicitation for bids to build the wall as of Wednesday, according to the Federal Business Opportunities website.

Michels Corp. chief legal counsel David Stegeman declined to comment on the company’s interest in the project.

The Government Accountability Office estimates that it would cost on average $6.5 million a mile for a fence to keep out people who try to enter on foot and $1.8 million a mile for vehicle barriers. The price tag will depend largely on the height, materials and other specifications that have not yet been defined

The Wisconsin firm’s co-owner, Tim Michels, unsuccessfully challenged former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold for his congressional seat in 2004.

The Wisconsin company has worked on numerous government projects.

It recently won a $6.3 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contract to remove a dam and restore sections of a river near Traverse City, Michigan.

Michels has also worked along the border.

The company installed a 2,400-foot gas pipeline under the Rio Grande River, which lines the border between Mexico and Texas, in 2014.

Michels has more than 30 locations across the U.S. and Canada, and employs more than 5,000 workers. It specializes in construction of oil and gas networks, transportation infrastructure and deep foundations, among other projects.

 

 

50 nations seek to counter Trump’s ban on family planning funds

Some 50 countries have signed up to attend a family planning conference in Brussels aimed at making up the gap left by President Donald Trump’s ban on U.S. funding to groups linked to abortion.

The participants agreed to attend the conference scheduled for Thursday on short notice to discuss using pledges from other nations and the private sector to “make sure that the impact on the field is completely taken away,” Belgian Vice Premier Alexander De Croo said.

“This should not be a moment where we are taking steps back into the Dark Ages for women and girls,” De Croo said.

Trump’s decision, one of his first acts as president, withholds about half a billion dollars a year from international groups that perform abortions or provide information about abortions. Officials in many European nations and around the world say the move will hurt women and girls who need family planning most.

“This is 50 countries saying, ‘Let’s roll up our sleeves and let’s stand for the values we think are important,’” De Croo said.

Belgium and several other countries already have committed to contributing at least 10 million euros each. Beyond governments, philanthropists and private donors will be asked to contribute at the conference.

Outside of many European nations, Canada, African and Asian countries will also have representatives at the conference, as will the European Union and the United Nations.

Swedish Vice Premier Isabella Lovin told the AP that even though maternal mortality rates have declined by almost half in the last generation, “every second minute a woman or a girl dies in the world due to pregnancy.”

“The important thing now is what we can do as a progressive alliance of countries and organizations that want to do more and to make sure that we do not (go) back on progress that has been done,” Lovin said.

The U.S. ban on funding to organizations that perform abortions or discuss the procedure with clients has been instituted by Republican administrations and rescinded by Democratic ones since 1984.

Former President Barack Obama last lifted it in 2009. But Trump significantly expanded it in an executive order he signed on his first full day in office.

Instead of containing abortions, the move would increase dangerous pregnancy terminations, Lovin and De Croo said.

De Croo insisted that he was not putting up a defense of abortion, per se.

“To be clear, any abortion that takes place is one too many,” he said. “But if it has to take place, then I think it should be available, and it should be available in a safe way.”

Watchdog: US has no way to measure border wall effectiveness

The United States does not have a way to measure how well walls or fencing work to deter illegal crossings from Mexico, according to a report released by Congress’ main watchdog.

The Government Accountability Office said the government spent $2.3 billion from 2007 to 2015 to extend fences to 654 miles of the nearly 2,000-mile border and more to repair them.

Despite those investments, the Customs and Border Protection agency “cannot measure the contribution of fencing to border security operations along the southwest border because it has not developed metrics for this assessment,” the agency said in a 75-page review.

Efforts to better measure success were aborted in 2013 because of a budget showdown between President Barack Obama and Congress, according to the report, which recommends developing new measures to justify more spending.

Donald Trump, speaking at a news conference recently, reiterated plans for a wall with Mexico — one of his signature campaign pledges — and promised to negotiate a lower price.

Border Patrol leaders have struggled to say with any degree of precision how well fences work.

Construction cost estimates have varied widely. The GAO report stuck with its 2009 estimate of an average of $6.5 million a mile for a fence to keep out people on foot and $1.8 million a mile for vehicle blockades. There are currently 354 miles of pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of vehicle barriers.

Republican leaders in Congress have said Trump’s wall would cost between $12 billion and $15 billion. Trump has suggested $12 billion.

An internal Homeland Security Department report prepared for Secretary John Kelly estimates the cost of extending the wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border at about $21 billion, according to a U.S. government official who is involved in border issues. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the report has not been made public.

The Homeland Security report proposes an initial phase that would extend fences 26 miles and a second wave that would add 151 miles, plus 272 “replacement” miles where fences are already installed, according to the official. Those two phases would cost $5 billion.

Few people dispute that fences contributed to a sharp drop in crossings in cities like San Diego and El Paso, Texas.

San Diego was the busiest corridor for illegal crossings until the late 1990s, when an enforcement surge pushed traffic to Arizona and other more remote areas where many crossers died from heat. As fencing critics note, border crossers continue to perish in isolated areas under extreme weather conditions.

Border Patrol agents the told authors of the GAO report that fencing has made it more difficult for people to ambush or assault them.

On the flip side, holes are often cut. The GAO reported 9,287 breaches in pedestrian fencing from 2010 to 2015. Agents said crossers have built ramps to drive over fences in Arizona and have burrowed beneath them.

Kelly told lawmakers that he would like to see wall construction well underway within two years.

HHS pick Price made ‘brazen’ stock trades while his committee was under scrutiny

Health and Human Services secretary nominee Tom Price showed little restraint in his personal stock trading during the three years that federal investigators were bearing down on a key House committee on which the Republican congressman served, a review of his financial disclosures shows.

Price made dozens of health industry stock trades during a three-year investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission that focused on the Ways and Means Committee, according to financial disclosure records he filed with the House of Representatives. The investigation was considered the first test of a law passed to ban members of Congress and their staffs from trading stock based on insider information.

Price was never a target of the federal investigation, which scrutinized a top Ways and Means staffer, and no charges were brought. But ethics experts say Price’s personal trading, even during the thick of federal pressure on his committee, shows he was unconcerned about financial investments that could create an appearance of impropriety.

“He should have known better,” Richard Painter, former White House chief ethics attorney under President George W. Bush and a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School said of Price’s conduct during the SEC inquiry.

As Price awaits a Senate vote on his confirmation, Senate Democrats and a number of watchdog groups have asked the SEC to investigate whether Price engaged in insider trading with some of his trades in health care companies. Price has said he abided by all ethics rules, although he acknowledged to the Senate Finance Committee that he did not consult the House Ethics Committee on trades that have now become controversial.

The SEC’s inquiry began in 2013, as it battled Ways and Means for documents to develop its case.

A few weeks ago, the day before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the SEC quietly dropped its pursuit of committee documents without explanation, according to federal court records. No charges were brought against the staffer, Brian Sutter, who is now a health care lobbyist. Sutter’s lawyer declined to comment.

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist with Public Citizen, described Price’s volume of stock trades during the SEC inquiry as “brazen,” given the congressman’s access to nonpublic information affecting the companies’ fortunes.

“The public is seeing this and they really don’t like it,” said Holman whose watchdog group recently filed complaints about Price’s stock trading with both the SEC and the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Trump administration officials and Price have dismissed questions that news reports and lawmakers have raised about stock trades coinciding with official actions to help certain companies, saying Price’s brokers chose the stocks independently and all of his conduct was transparent.

After acknowledging that he asked his broker to buy stock in an Australian drug company, he told the Senate Finance Committee that he did not direct his broker to make other trades.

“To the best of my knowledge, I have not undertaken such actions,” he wrote in response to finance committee questions. “I have abided by and adhered to all ethics and conflict of interest rules applicable to me.”

An analysis of Price’s trades shows that he bought health stocks in 2007, the first year Congress financial disclosures are posted online. In 2011, the the first year Price sat on the health subcommittee, he traded no health-related stocks, according to his financial disclosures filed with Congress.

That same year, members were facing public criticism because of a book detailing how they could use inside information and a “60 Minutes” investigation focused on how members and staff could legally use inside information to gain from their own stock trades.

In 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act to rein in insider trading by members and require more disclosure. Public watchdog groups suggested at the time that the law would curb the practice.

That year, after his one-year break in health care trades, Price resumed investing in health care companies.

Along with investments in technology, financial services and retail stocks, he also bought and sold stock in companies that could be impacted by actions of his subcommittee, which has a role in determining rates the government pays under the Medicare program.

Health care firms spend heavily to influence members of Congress, lobbying on health matters, funding political campaigns and seeking favor with Medicare officials who decide how much the program will pay for certain drugs and devices. The Food and Drug Administration holds similar power, approving or putting conditions on drug and device use.

Beyond his personal investments in health care companies, Price has also advocated their interests in letters to officials and proposed laws, government records show.

In 2012, disclosure records show Price sold stock in several drug firms, including more than $110,000 worth of Amgen stock. Amgen’s stock price had steadily climbed out of a recession-level slump, but Price’s sale came a few weeks before the company pleaded guilty to illegally marketing an anemia drug.

By 2013, the health subcommittee was at the center of a major conflict between Medicare, which sets Medicare Advantage rates, and the insurance industry. Medicare issued a notice early that year announcing its intention to reduce Medicare Advantage rates by 2.3 percent as part of a major cost-cutting initiative.

That prompted fierce lobbying by the health insurance industry. Members of Congress, including Price, wrote a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, then acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, protesting the rate cut, saying the decrease would “disadvantage vulnerable beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions.”

Ultimately, Medicare decided not to cut rates but instead, to increase them. Yet an hour before Medicare announced the change, a Height Securities analyst fired off a “flash” report to 200 clients that touched off a surge of trading.

The analyst’s report said a political deal was hatched on Capitol Hill to prevent the cuts as a condition for moving forward on Tavenner’s confirmation. Medicare officials increased rates by nearly 4 percent, a change that would positively impact the bottom lines of health insurance companies.

The SEC began looking for the leak’s source, and within weeks, FBI agents began interviewing staffers at the Ways and Means Committee, court records show.

They discovered communications between Sutter and a health care lobbyist. The HHS Inspector General also began a probe, and federal prosecutors briefly examined the matter activity as well.

As the case unfolded, Price bought more health care-related stocks, according to his financial disclosures. He has testified that his broker directed all of the trades, except for his investments in Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian company partly owned by Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), according to Collins’ disclosures. An HHS spokesman said Monday that Price held three broker-directed accounts.

Ethics experts have said that Price should have further distanced himself by placing his assets in a blind trust.

On April 30, 2013, Price bought $2,093 worth of stocks in Incyte, a company that develops cancer drugs; $2,076 in Onyx Pharmaceuticals, a drugmaker that would soon merge with a larger drug firm; and $2,097 in Parexel International, a consultancy that helps drugs and devices win FDA approval, according to the financial disclosure records.

The same day, Price shed shares of Express Scripts, a drug management firm, and Danaher, which makes products hospitals and doctor’s offices using for testing and diagnostics. In August of that year, he bought a $2,429 stake in Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which makes sleep and cancer drugs.

On May 6, 2014, the SEC served its first subpoena for the Ways and Means Committee documents. The committee launched a vigorous fight, appealing a federal district judge’s ruling that it should comply with the SEC subpoena.

Price continued his health stock trades, including $1,000 to $15,000 in drug firms Amgen, Eli Lilly and Co., Pfizer, Biogen and Bristol-Myers Squibb. He also bought stocks in Aetna, a major health insurer, and Athenahealth, which sells electronic medical record and medical billing software. In 2016, he also increased his investment in Innate Immunotherapeutics.

The purchase became controversial because both he and Collins bought stock in a private placement at a discounted price.

“You’re asking for trouble if you have access to nonpublic information about the health care industry and you’re buying and selling health care stocks,” Painter said.

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Publication of this story here is provided for under a creative commons agreement.

Madison adopts panhandling ordinance

City leaders in Madison have approved a highly debated panhandling ordinance after a marathon meeting.

The ordinance approved by the Common Council early Wednesday bans panhandling in dozens of busy traffic spots across the city.

The council’s meeting began Tuesday but lasted into the morning, when the ordinance passed 12-8.

WKOW-TV reports that Mayor Paul Soglin told the council he has long believed it unsafe to let anyone, even firefighters with boots, ask for money at busy intersections.

“The accidents, the deaths, are well documented and we all know if you want to help, the best thing to do is to support our housing initiatives,” Soglin said.

Alderwoman Amanda Hall called the ordinance “really mean,” saying it discriminates against people in need who are already in a tough position.

She also dismissed arguments that the ordinance was intended to keep people safe. Hall noted there is little data over the last two decades that suggests panhandling is unsafe, with only one instance of someone being hit by a vehicle.

The mayor said the city will roll out an education campaign in the coming months and that staff members will visit the critical intersections to explain the new ordinance. Soglin added that his office doesn’t want to arrest anyone.

Reducing food waste is good for the Earth AND your wallet

Remember how it was when you were a kid sitting at the kitchen table and your mother served up a healthy helping of rutabagas? Gross, right?

You slipped them to the family dog or spooned them into a napkin to get them out of sight. But there was no fooling Mom. Your failed sleight-of-hand resulted in a guilt trip and membership in the Clean Your Plate Club.

Fast-forward to today and you’ll find that wasting food has costly consequences extending well beyond your plate.

“Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The environmental advocacy group says that cutting food waste by just 15 percent would help feed more than 25 million people a year “at a time when 1 in 6 Americans lack a secure supply of food to their tables.”

Alice Henneman, an extension educator with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, puts it another way: “Food tossed is money lost.”

Food rots when dumped in a landfill, and produces methane, a greenhouse gas said to contribute to climate change. Food wasted in stores and restaurants cuts into profits.

But incentives have been introduced to reduce food waste, many of them financial.

“Tax benefits are available for restaurants and stores for donating food,” Henneman said. “People are buying ‘ugly food and vegetables,’ or produce that is misshapen in appearance, in stores because stores are offering them at a discount.”

Michigan State University has been aggressive about fighting food waste in its 10 dining halls, where more than 30,000 meals are served daily.

“Food is expensive,” said Carla Iansiti, sustainability projects manager for MSU’s Culinary Services. “We train our staff members to get the most volume out of their product, only cut what you need for a recipe and be creative about using all the products.”

The university remodeled several of its dining halls to be trayless and stocked them with smaller dishes. “It makes a difference with smaller plates and fewer plates, and people always have the option to come back for more,” Iansiti said.

Additional tips for minimizing food waste:

• Think landfill diversion. Compost your leftovers for better crop or garden production, or mix them with animal feed. Freeze or can surplus garden produce or donate it to a food bank.

• There is value in sizing. Buy things that won’t spoil in quantity.

• Check your garbage. Cook dishes that have proven popular and don’t end up being thrown out.

• Buy often and buy fresh, eating as much as you can before it goes bad. Shop your refrigerator before purchasing more.

• Practice portion control. Share rather than discard leftovers. Ask for a sample when dining out if you’re uncertain about ordering something. Don’t rush through meals.

• Plan “cook-it-up” menus. Check expiration dates and move older food products toward the front of your shelves so they can be used first.

On the Web

For more about reducing food waste, see this Natural Resources Defense Council issue paper.