Maine’s solid waste stream is made up of about 40 percent organic matter, with the state as a whole only composting about 5 percent of materials that are compostable, according to the University of Maine.

Pair these statistics with the fact that one in four Maine children are food insecure, meaning they don’t have regular access to fresh and nutritious food. And, as a whole, Maine ranks the highest in New England for food insecurity.

These are realities that a collaboration of groups are seeking to engage Mainers on by organizing the first ever Maine Composts Week, a series of events being held between May 7 and May 13, exemplifying what people can do to cut down on food waste.

“The simple message is we need to stop wasting food. It’s very simple for us to do that on an individual level,” Ryan Parker, environmental policy outreach coordinator of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, said.

The week is being put on by a coalition of about 16 groups from across Maine and is being held in conjunction with International Compost Awareness Week. The steering committee has worked over the last year to identify food waste issues they wanted to bring to light, devising tools and practical solutions that people can use in their own lives to combat against the issues.

While the title of the week alludes to only compost, steering committee chair Travis Blackmer wants the week to bring to light the range of ways in which Mainers can reduce food waste and make sure food is used to its maximum potential.

“We’re trying to bring all aspects of the food nexus together. Food diversion, composting, food recovery — those are all things that are being done [in Maine],” Blackmer, a University of Maine economics professor and research associate at the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, said.

The week features of a set of organized events including library talks and documentary screenings but also encourages people to participate in food issues by taking their own initiative, whether that’s starting a compost pile in their backyard or other ways of diverting food from the waste stream. The Maine Composts Week website features several “challenge” style events to steer these individual initiatives. The challenges are creative, including a backpack waste challenge, where participants must carry around the any waste they have generated during the week in a backpack. There are also several information-oriented challenges such as making an advertisement for composting.

The week’s mission is also working to promote the ethos of the Maine food recovery hierarchy, a statute enacted by the state legislature in 2015 that outlined the state’s solid waste management hierarchy. According to the hierarchy, food first and foremost should be purchased, grown and harvested in a way that cuts down on the volume of surplus food. The second step would be the donation of any surplus food to food banks and other organizations that will use the food to feed people. The diversion of food scraps for animal feed is next on the hierarchy, followed by the utilization of food waste for energy production. In last place on the hierarchy is land disposal or incineration of food scraps.

The goal of this hierarchy is to exemplify all the ways food scraps and surplus food can be better put to use than by just being thrown into a landfill.

“One segment of the population is throwing away perfectly good food, and another segment of the population could be benefiting from it,” Parker said.

At the Bangor Public Library on May 9, Parker will be hosting a documentary screening of “Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story,” a film that follows two Canadians as they opt out of traditional grocery shopping and instead live for a year on foods that would otherwise be thrown away. While this might seem extreme to some, Parker said the film is a good way to set the stage for a discussion on developing food waste reduction habits.

The first step people can take to preventing their scraps from ending up in a landfill is reducing the amount of food waste they generate in the first place. This starts with taking a hard look at your shopping habits, Park said. Making a weekly meal plan and only shopping for the items that make up the plan can help ensure you’re not purchasing more food than your household will consume, he said. When it comes to the point that you do have food waste that’s not edible, this is where backyard composting comes in.

To coincide with Maine Compost Week, two communities in southern Maine will be debuting the first municipal curbside collection of food waste in the state, according to Lisa Wolff, of EcoMaine. Select neighborhoods in Scarborough and South Portland will be eligible for the curbside pick up, while all other residents will be able to drop off their food waste at designated locations.

With this year being the first for Maine Composts Week, Blackmer said growth in coming years is certain. For this year, the goal is simple. “Our hope is to inspire,” Blackmer said.