Beating the Paradox of Hunger and Food Waste
Health and Nutrition Millions of people in the United States are food insecure and billions of pounds of food goes to waste each year. Feeding America wants to solve these problems.
In America today, more than 41 million people face hunger. At the same time, 72 billion pounds of food go to waste each year. But this troubling picture has a silver lining. We produce enough food to feed everyone and solve hunger in America.
Seeing an opportunity
At Feeding America, we recognize this possibility and opportunity. As a hunger-relief and food rescue organization with a network of 200 food banks, we work across the food supply chain, with farmers, manufacturers and retailers, to rescue safe food that might otherwise go to waste and get it on to the plates of people in need.
Early in the supply chain are farms, where 20 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables are left unharvested each year. To turn this unnecessary loss of crops into an opportunity to feed people in need, we are capturing farms’ unused fresh produce through Regional Produce Cooperatives. These cooperatives create an efficient and effective model to procure and process larger volumes of produce, while enabling food banks of all sizes across the country to secure and distribute a variety of crops they need for their community — all in a timely matter that keeps perishable food safe.
A rescue mission for food
On the other end of the food supply chain, 52 billion pounds of food from manufacturers, grocery stores and restaurants end up in landfills. Through our partnerships with national food companies and grocery chains, Feeding America works to lower this number by capturing their surplus food and diverting it to local food banks. One way we do this is through MealConnect, Feeding America’s online food donation platform. MealConnect connects local restaurants, growers and manufacturers to food banks, pantries and meal programs that can pick up the food and distribute it to the people they serve.
As we look to the future of food rescue, Feeding America is working to find ways to apply our successful produce rescue strategy to other markets — including the protein and dairy industries. We are also looking to expand our rescue efforts beyond factories, restaurants and stores to include ports and delivery trucks so that rejected but perfectly edible loads do not end up in landfills or dumped in the ocean.
As this wasted food and hunger paradox demonstrates, hunger in America is, in large part, a problem of logistics. Working together, we can come up with the right strategies and resources to align these problems to become each other’s solution. Working together, we can prevent wasted food and end hunger at the same time.