Food Waste and Food Rescue

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

America has more than enough food for everyone to eat. But each year, billions of pounds of perfectly good food go to waste. Meanwhile, 44 million face hunger in the United States.

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.

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 out 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, 119 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States. That equates to 130 billion meals and more than $408 billion in 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. Food waste in our homes makes up about 39% of all food waste - about 42 billion pounds of food waste. While commercial food waste makes up about 61% of all food waste or 66 billion pounds of food waste. Feeding America focuses on reducing food waste on farms and in food service, manufacturing, and retail.


What is Feeding America doing about food waste?

Last year, the Feeding America network and our partners rescued 3.6 billion pounds of groceries. That food went directly to meals for people facing hunger. This makes Feeding America the largest food rescue organization in the country.

Food rescue, or food recovery, is 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 provide rescued food to our neighbors. Those industries contribute 66 billion pounds of food waste every year.

We identify food 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:

Meal Connect, a food waste reduction app

MealConnect, makes safe and quick food donations possible by matching food banks to food donations for local businesses. Grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, caterers, and more can use the no-cost platform to donate surplus meals. MealConnect has recently rescued 3 billion pounds of food. Learn how MealConnect works and join today.

Photo of fresh peaches on a tree

Waste It or Taste It?

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

Take the quiz.