Food waste is a HOT topic, and it’s helping elevate the critical conversation of aligning food recovery and fighting food insecurity. The EPA has feeding hungry people at the top of their Food Recovery Hierarchy, symbolizing it should be the first recovery option explored, yet much of the chatter seems to be about composting, bio-digesters, and landfill diversion. The first question should always be: how can we get safe, wholesome food to those in need?
We’re working to solve that question every day. Feeding America is leading the way in the safe redirection of nutritious food with 2.6 of the 4 billion pounds of food we distribute being diverted from landfills. But the sobering fact still remains that each year in America, more than 133 billion pounds of food is wasted at the retail and consumer level. What can we do to capture some of those pounds, and how can we better enable others to do the same? While the concept is simple, the execution is anything but easy. Feeding America saw an opportunity to mobilize those working solely in the food recovery space to tackle this complex issue.
The idea unfolded for Feeding America to host a conference bringing together key stakeholders. The idea came to life on October 7, 2015, in Washington D.C., where we hosted our first Food Recovery Summit. The event provided an opportunity for attendees to share timely information on food safety, advocacy, best practices, and capacity-building strategies, and brainstorm how to best maximize our impact on this critical issue. The room was filled with NGO food rescue organizations, food industry partners, academics, governmental regulatory agencies, and thought leaders. We identified synergies, areas we could better collaborate, strategy and stakeholder gaps and discussed what the future of food recovery can be.
The energy in the room was infectious. And I for one am excited. We all know the numbers tell us that the opportunity is large and the need is immense, but the excitement comes when all the pieces in the middle begin to align and the bold goal we all share starts to feel attainable. Many thanks to all those who participated in the Summit, and for those behind the scenes who helped make it a reality. Big things to come from this group, and I suspect great strides in feeding more families and helping sustain a better environment.
*Liz Baldridge is the account manager, manufacturing product sourcing at Feeding America.