Feeding America’s food donation platform, MealConnect, recently hit a major milestone: it has helped facilitate five billion pounds of food rescue since its launch in 2014. While we celebrate the achievement, we know there is still much work to be done. So, let’s look at the problem of food waste in the United States, how retailers and farmers use MealConnect works to address that issue, and what you can do to help reduce food waste at home.
What is food waste in the United States?
Food waste happens when safe, high-quality food is thrown out instead of being eaten. Every year in the United States, 119 billion pounds of food is wasted. That’s the same as 130 billion meals and more than $408 billion in food thrown away. Food is wasted for several reasons, including uneaten food thrown out at home and at restaurants, crops left in fields, food not meeting manufacturer standards, and more.
What is Meal Connect, how does it address food waste and help feed our neighbors?
MealConnect is a no-cost online platform which does exactly that – it easily connects people who have surplus food such as grocers, retailers, restaurants, farmers, suppliers, food distribution companies and more to food banks and agency partners across the country. Once connected, those food banks and their partners pick up the food, and then distribute it in their community to people facing hunger. In 2022 alone, MealConnect facilitated rescuing over one billion meals – which means people who might need a little help affording food are getting the nutritious food they need to thrive, while reducing food waste.
Using the online platform or app, MealConnect users simply post a photo of their food donation as well as some additional information and select a pickup time. That information is then sent to a food bank or agency partner, who will pick up the food and distribute it to our neighbors facing hunger through food pantries and other programs.
For example, if a farmer has a surplus harvest of fruit, they could post that opportunity on MealConnect where the entire Feeding America network of food banks would have access to accept that donation.
What can I do to reduce food waste?
Reducing food waste starts at home. There are a few ways you can make an impact right now:
- Educate yourself about food waste. Know the facts, and share with others. Awareness is the first step in making a difference!
- Check out these three simple ways to reduce food waste at home, from celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern.
- Put your food waste knowledge to the test with our “Waste it or Taste It” quiz, to see if you know which food can be eaten and which should be discarded. The answers may surprise you!