By Colleen Callahan
Communication Manager and Content Producer
Today is America Recycles Day. Consequently, it's a great day to talk about something Feeding America does best: food rescue.
In the U.S. today, 70 billion pounds of good, edible food go to waste each year. That means that nearly 40 percent of all food that is grown, harvested and produced is filling landfills rather than feeding people.
At Feeding America, we find it unacceptable that so much food goes to waste when 49 million Americans face hunger. So we’ve made it our goal to rescue as much food as possible and get it onto plates of people in need. For the past 30 years, that is exactly what we’ve been doing.
What began as a simple effort to pick up surplus food from a few grocery stores is now the largest, most effective food rescue operation in the U.S. Feeding America successfully rescues 2.5 billion pounds of food annually, and helps deliver it to people who don’t have enough to eat.
For many of us, when we think of food waste we’re reminded of our mothers telling us to eat our vegetables, less they go to “waste.” In reality, that kind of food waste is minute compared to the large amounts of good, safe food unused by farmers, manufacturers, and retailers each year. As the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., Feeding America is in a unique position to efficiently and effectively rescue food. We have strategic partnerships with the food industry that enable us to work with people at every step of the food production process to secure surplus food that would otherwise go to waste.
Additionally, we have the logistical expertise and resources necessary to make successful food rescue happen. With a network of 200 food banks across the country, Feeding America has frozen and dry storage spaces and a dedicated volunteer force needed to rescue billions of pounds of food. We also have innovative monitoring and tracking technology – not to mention one of the largest fleets of trucks in the nation—that helps move rescued food safely and efficiently.
Included in our food rescue efforts is perishable food. Traditionally difficult to source, Feeding America has developed innovative strategies to safely secure foods like meats, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Two to three times a week, we rescue perishable items using Safe Food Handling Guidelines from more than 16,000 retailers across the country. Rescuing fresh foods allows us to provide the people we serve with nutritious options. We believe that all the people we serve should not only have food to fill their stomachs, but also the food they need to live active, healthy lives
Despite our best efforts, we realize that too much good food is still going to waste while too many people are going hungry. Consequently, we are inspired to continuously build our capacity for food rescue and engage the food industry in supporting our mission. Together, we can rescue enough food to make sure no one in our nation goes to bed hungry ever again.
Test your food waste knowledge. Take our food waste quiz, Waste It or Taste It, and challenge your friends to do the same.