How We Fight Food Waste in the US

When we stop food waste, we take a big step toward ending hunger.

America has more than enough food to feed everyone. But each year, an enormous amount of food is wasted in the United States. Feeding America partners with food manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers to prevent food waste and rescue surplus food to help feed people visiting our network of food banks.

Each year, 72 billion pounds of food goes to waste while 42 million people may face hunger due to the pandemic.


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Consumer-facing businesses include

Supermarkets, grocery stores,
& distribution
Full-service restaurants
Institutional & foodservice
Limited-service restaurants
Source: ReFED

52 billion pounds of food from manufacturers, grocery stores and restaurants end up in landfills rather than kitchen tables.

Feeding America focuses on the first three areas: farms, manufacturers and consumer-facing businesses. By partnering with leaders and local members of these industries, Feeding America can find ways to rescue more food that would have otherwise gone to waste—and feed more people in need. Watch this video to learn how the Feeding America network rescues food every day.

It’s about sustainability, too.

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$218 billion worth of food is thrown away each year.

Food loss occurs at every stage of the food production and distribution system. Excluding consumer waste at home, 52 billion pounds of food from manufacturers, grocery stores and restaurants end up in landfills. An additional 20 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables are discarded on farms or left in fields and plowed under.

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72 billion pounds of food is lost each year, not including waste at home.

Approximately 72 billion pounds of perfectly good food—from every point in the food production cycle—ends up in landfills and incinerators every year. Rescuing this perfectly edible, whole food means feeding families facing hunger and taking a large step in protecting our planet and conserving our resources.

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21% of landfill volume is food waste.

National food industry and environmental organizations, government agencies and even the UN agree: Reducing food waste in the US has to be a top priority for protecting the environment. The UN set the ambitious—but achievable—goal of reducing food waste by half in the year 2030, and the EPA and USDA are now working to meet that goal.

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21% of
fresh water
is used to produce food that is then discarded.

Together, we are committed to reducing the needless waste of good food so we can feed our families and resources.

In 2020, the Feeding America network and our partners rescued 4 billion pounds of food.

That food went straight to feeding people facing hunger. But we can do more. So Feeding America works closely with the people who understand food’s lifecycle best—manufacturers, distributors, retailers, foodservice companies, and farmers—to divert and gather food before it goes to waste.

Working with experts gives us insight into how food goes to waste and helps us get more of it to food banks across the country. To maximize our effectiveness, we’ve developed ways to gauge demand from individual food banks, safely ship food over long distances and keep food fresh longer once it reaches a food bank.

We’re working on new innovative ways to get perfectly good food to children, seniors, and families who need it most. Here are a few examples of the new solutions we have in action to rescue food:

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One of Feeding America’s newest innovations, MealConnect, makes safe and quick food donations possible by matching food businesses directly to the Feeding America network. Local grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and more can use MealConnect to alert nearby food banks, food pantries or meal programs when they have food ready for immediate pick up, making more good food available and revolutionizing local food rescue. To read more about how MealConnect works, visit

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Waste It or Taste It?

Can you spot the food that may be destined for the dumpster?

Take the quiz.