It is an unfortunate irony that as 1-in-6 Americans struggle to put food on the table, up to 40% of food across the United States will land in a land fill, rather than on a plate. Food waste is a real issue, and one that goes hand-in-hand with hunger relief. Feeding America estimates that 70 billion (yes, with a ‘B’) pounds of food goes to waste each year. Meanwhile nearly 49 million of our fellow Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Across the pond, France made international headlines this May when parliament unanimously passed a bill that bans grocery stores from tossing unsold food. Instead, “French supermarkets will have to give unsold food away to charities or donate it for use in animal feed or compost,” thinkprogress.org reports.
Here in the Greater Triangle IFFS is leveraging a couple strategies of our own to reduce food waste in North Carolina.
At the retail level, we recover and redistribute millions of pounds of food each year from super markets that otherwise would have gone to waste. At the farm level, our Field Gleaning program connects with farmers who have excess crops, and sends volunteer crews to harvest the surplus and distribute it to people in need, as a better alternative to letting it rot in the field.
And on special occasions our corporate partners present a unique opportunity for us to rescue even more food from the dump.
On a Friday evening in May, software development company SAS held “Family Day” at their World Headquarters in Cary, N.C. The event was catered by another Triangle company, Catering Works. Both SAS and Catering Works are long-time IFFS supporters.
This was a “stars aligned” opportunity that we just couldn’t decline. While IFFS’ small team of drivers is not staffed for evening pickups, we decided to make an exception. We sent a crew to recover approximately 800 pounds of prepared picnic food (think chicken, BBQ, baked beans, etc.) that was surplus and had not been served.
What made this one-time pick-up work was the organization and assistance on the donors’ end. When our IFFS truck pulled in, Catering Works had all the unserved leftover food ready to go, abiding by food safety guidelines. Additionally, dozens of people were on hand to help load it onto our truck.
As is the case in most food recoveries by IFFS, the food didn’t spend long in our possession. After being stored in our commercial refrigerators, we delivered it the following day to five local agencies: Raleigh Rescue Mission, Newbern House, Shepherd's Table, The Healing Place Men’s Facility, and AME, who were all very grateful.
By Lindsay Humbert, IFFS Digital Media Specialist. Contact: Lindsay@FoodShuttle.org