A food bank staff member holding bread.
A child holding a cob of corn and an apple.
A woman holding a yellow crate filled with scallions while standing in a field.

Fighting food waste and hunger with food rescue

Every day, millions of people in the United States struggle to access food while millions of tons of perfectly good groceries go to waste. As the nation's largest food rescue organization, we're changing that!

We connect stores, restaurants, farms, and food banks to save nutritious food that would otherwise go to waste. Every rescued meal means more food for our neighbors experiencing food insecurity. Together, we can make sure everyone has access to healthy food and good food never goes to waste.

A food bank staff member holding bread.
A child holding a cob of corn and an apple.
A woman holding a yellow crate filled with scallions while standing in a field.

Food waste statistics in the US

In the United States, people waste 92 billion pounds of food annually, equal to 145 billion meals. They throw away over $473 billion worth of food annually. Shockingly, they waste 38% of all the food in America.

92B

pounds of food go to waste each year.

38%

of all food goes unsold or uneaten.

145B

meals' worth of food goes to landfills.

51.7%

of waste comes from the food industry.

What is food waste?

Food waste is perfectly good, safe-to-eat food that gets thrown away instead of eaten. It happens at home, in stores, restaurants, and farms. Food gets wasted because of things like:

  • Ugly or oddly shaped fruits and veggies
  • Upcoming sell-by or expiration dates (food is often still safe to eat)
  • Overproduction at farms
  • Food getting damaged during transport
A box of potatoes and bell peppers.

The environmental impact

Food waste is a major contributor to climate change. It's responsible for 8% of all global carbon emissions, making up most items in our landfills. Growing food requires lots of water, fuel, and fertilizer.

By preventing food waste and rescuing food at risk of being discarded, we can lessen our environmental impact and ensure that resources are used to nourish communities.

Two farmers tending to a flower garden.

How food rescue works

Food rescue is one of our most powerful weapons in the fight against food waste. We work side-by-side with food donors like grocery stores, farmers, and restaurants. Together, we find perfectly good food that’s nearing its sell-by date, has cosmetic imperfections, or just didn’t sell. 

Instead of ending up in landfills, this food gets a second chance.

1
Identify

Our team works closely with food donors to intercept food before it goes to landfills.

2
Pickup

The Feeding America network of food banks and meal programs pick up the donated food.

3
Sort

Our members carefully inspect the food to make sure it’s fresh and ready to enjoy.

4
Distribute

The rescued food reaches people experiencing food insecurity.

Benefits of food rescue

By supporting food rescue, you’re helping us create a future where no one experiences food insecurity and good food never goes to waste.

Less waste, more food

We keep good food out of landfills and give our neighbors nourishing meals.

Nourishes communities

We provide fresh fruits, veggies, and food to people visiting food pantries and meal programs.

Stronger food system

We create a more efficient way to get food from farms and stores to families.

Join the movement!

Help us end hunger and stop food waste. Here's how you can get involved:

A mom and her child carrying a frozen turkey.

Donate

Your support helps us rescue even more food.

Donate now ›

A woman smiling in a garden.

Volunteer

Sort, pack, or even glean food from farms.

Get involved ›

A mom and son cooking on the stove.

Reduce your food waste

Plan meals, store food properly, and get creative with leftovers.

Learn more ›

A person holding a box of food and smiling.

Involve your company

Partner with Feeding America to start a food rescue program.

Learn more ›

Explore more about food rescue

Check out food rescue stories and learn how you can help reduce food waste.

Tom Hong at a grocery store.

A personal mission to end food waste, one grocery store at a time

Meet Tom Hong, a food bank employee who's made it his personal mission to help end food waste in the United States, one grocery store at a time.

Read More

Produce in a box

What is MealConnect? Learn about Feeding America's food rescue platform

MealConnect, Feeding America's food donation platform, has helped facilitate five billion pounds of food rescue since 2014. Learn about food waste, what the pro

Read More

Stacy Nichols poses in front of a Starbucks flag.

Hope and a banana loaf: the impact of Starbucks FoodShare

After receiving donated food from the Starbucks FoodShare program, Stacy, now a Starbucks store manager, is giving back.

Read More

Ray Lodge holding some oranges.

Fighting food waste one orange at a time

A local citrus farmer and a California food bank are fighting food waste and providing food for people facing hunger.

Read More

A man picking tomatoes off a vine.

How Feeding America works with farmers

Farmers are critical partners in the fight against hunger. Learn how Feeding America and farmers work together every year.

Read More

Andrew Zimmern cutting food.

Andrew Zimmern's top 3 easy ways to reduce food waste at home

Emmy and four-time James Beard Award-winning Chef Andrew Zimmern shares his three easy tips for reducing food waste at home.

Read More

Nick of Food Lifeline

Your guide to gleaning

Gleaning is a great way to reduce food waste and help food banks provide meals to people facing hunger. Learn how you can start gleaning in your area.

Read More

Tara Kuczykowski of Deal Seeking Mom shares her pumpkin pie recipe.

5 Things to do with Thanksgiving Leftovers

Avoid throwing out your thanksgiving leftovers by following our guide to donating, and reusing Thanksgiving leftovers.

Read More

Nick of Food Lifeline

Three stories of rescued food during the pandemic

Closed restaurants, canceled events, and more meals at home mean more perfectly good food going to waste. You may have seen the photos or read stories of crops being destroyed or gallons of milk being dumped. 

Read More

Apple farmer holding apples in field

Meet the apple farmer helping families this fall 

For Americans who struggle with hunger, enjoying apples - and their amazing health benefits - in the fall isn't always possible. But one farmer in New York who

Read More

Boy in back seat of car holding apple and smiling

Using your phone to fight food waste

Food banks are beginning to engage members of their community as volunteers to pick up and drop off food donations in their neighborhoods using our food rescue

Read More

Feeding America Placeholder

Reducing food waste one banana at a time

Grocery stores require fruits to be specific sizes, shapes, and colors – yet if the fruit is too “ugly,” they are destined for the dumpster. That's why we're co

Read More

Gary Pahl is a farmer who donates produce to his local food pantry

How one vegetable farmer is fighting food waste and feeding those in need

How does Feeding America fight food waste? In this guest blog by a Minnesota vegetable farmer, get a firsthand perspective on how fresh produce that would have

Read More

Feeding America Placeholder

Every Day is Earth Day: Our Food Rescue Mission

Did you know that billions of pounds of food are thrown away instead of eaten every year in our country, while at the same time, 1 in 8 Americans face hunger? Food waste and hunger are both persistent problems nationwide. However, these challenges aren’t insurmountable.

Read More

Community Food Share receives fresh lettuce.

Three Stories of Rescued Summer Veggies

Feeding America provides everyone’s favorite fruits and veggies to families facing hunger by saving produce before it goes to waste.

Read More

Small vegetable plant growing in a garden.

5 tips for growing a garden that fights hunger

If you're a gardener who'd like to help feed your neighbors, here are five vegetables that are easy to grow and share.

Read More

Budget Bytes blogger Beth

8 Habits for Reducing Waste in the Kitchen

Here are eight small habits that can make a big difference when it comes to reducing kitchen waste.

Read More

Bell Peppers

Farmers Give Back to Alleviate Hunger

A growing number of farms are donating their excess produce to the Feeding America network, meaning this healthy food reaches empty stomachs rather than landfil

Read More

A farmer inspects his sweet potatoes

Reducing Food Waste One Sweet Potato at a Time

A sweet potato farmer sells his excess produce to reduce food waste and feed families in need.

Read More

Spinach

How to Save Your Fresh Food Before it Goes to Waste

Beth from Budget Bytes shares her favorite recipes to stop perishable foods from going to waste

Read More

Elizabeth Olsen

Elizabeth Olsen’s Perspective: Why Food Waste Matters

Elizabeth Olsen is working with Feeding America to help rescue 2.8 billion pounds of food each year through the Feeding America network. Read more in her own wo

Read More

Farm irrigation

Ten Ways Food Waste Hurts the Environment

Food waste in America has a negative impact on the environment – and Feeding America is fighting to rescue wasted food.

Read More

Karen Hanner at the White House food waste event

Food Waste Goes to the White House

The days of the current White House Administration may be winding down, but they still took time to make history recently by hosting the first White House Round

Read More

Loading food in a truck.

Recap: Feeding America’s First Food Recovery Summit

Food waste is a HOT topic, and it’s helping elevate the critical conversation of aligning food recovery and fighting food insecurity.

Read More

Kees_300x300

Keeping Food Out of Landfills and Onto the Plates of People in Need

Unilever is committed to working with Feeding America to end hunger by reducing waste sent to landfills & rescuing food that can be donated.

Read More

A man standing next to boxes of food.

Fighting Hunger and Reducing Waste

Up to 40 percent of the good, safe food produced in America never makes it to people's plates. Instead 40 percent, or 70 million tons, goes to waste.

Read More

Feeding America Placeholder

Feeding America to the (Food) Rescue

Today is America Recycles Day. At Feeding America, we find it unacceptable that so much food goes to waste when 49 million Americans face hunger.

Read More