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, billions of pounds of perfectly good food go to waste. Meanwhile, 42 million may experience hunger in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As the country's largest food rescue organization, Feeding America partners with food manufacturers, grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers to rescue food and deliver it to food banks serving our neighbors in need.

What is food waste?

Food waste is safe, high-quality food that is thrown away rather than eaten. Food waste occurs for a variety of reasons including:

  • Uneaten food that is thrown away at homes, stores, and restaurants
  • Crops left in fields because of low crop prices or too many of the same crops being available
  • Problems during the manufacturing and transportation of food
  • Food not meeting retailers' standards for color and appearance

How much food waste is there in the United States?

Each year, 108 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States. That equates to more than $161 billion worth of food thrown away each year. Shockingly, nearly 40% of all food in America is wasted.

Food goes to waste at every stage of food production and distribution - from farmers to packers and shippers, from manufacturers to retailers to our homes.

 

Farms

Farm Icon

20B

 
 
16%

Consumer-facing
businesses

Business Icon

50B

 
 
40%

Manufacturers

Manufacturer Icon

2B

 
 
2%

Homes

Home Icon

54B

 
 
43%
 

Consumer-facing businesses include

16B
 
Supermarkets, grocery stores,
& distribution
centers
14B
 
Full-service restaurants
10B
 
Institutional & foodservice
8B
 
Limited-service restaurants
1B
 
Government
Source: ReFED

 

What is Feeding America doing about food waste?

In 2020, the Feeding America network and our partners rescued 4 billion pounds of groceries. This includes more than 1.8 billion pounds of rescued fresh produce.

That food went directly to feed people facing hunger. This makes Feeding America the largest food rescue organizations in the country.

Food rescue, or food recovery, is the practice of collecting high-quality food that would otherwise go to waste and distributing it to people facing hunger. We work with manufacturers, retailers, and farmers to reduce food waste and get rescued food to people in need. We identify food that’s at risk of going to waste, offer rescued food to food banks, safely ship food over long distances and keep food fresh longer once it reaches a food bank.

We’re working on new ways to get perfectly good food to our neighbors who need it most including:

MealConnect icon

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 MealConnect.org.

Photo of fresh peaches on a tree

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