Reducing food waste

food waste

Food waste is a problem in developed countries. In the U.S. alone, approximately 35 million tons of food gets discarded each year, with 40% of the total going to the trash before the food even hits the plate. While the situation is discouraging, there is a bit of good news. The problem has inspired college students to take action, according to NPR's The Salt.

After noticing the piles of wasted food in his college's cafeteria, Ben Simon created Food Recovery Network "as a way to get college kids to salvage uneaten food from cafeterias and deliver it to local agencies that feed the needy. He's been so successful with the initiative that he was recently highlighted on Forbes' "30 Under 30" list of entrepreneurs." Three years after he started the program at his campus, it has expanded to more than 100 chapters across the country. To date, the program has salvaged nearly 640,000 pounds of food, which the students repackage and deliver to programs helping the hungry.

Simon's inspiration was The Campus Kitchens Project, started in 2001 by the nonprofit D.C. Central Kitchen. The Project, which now has 42 chapters, recruits high-school and college students who gather food from cafeterias, grocery stores and farmers' markets, prepare it and deliver it to various charities. "It's the students who come up with the recipes, who check the temperature of the food, who are trained in [food] safety and who are running the shifts as a chef would," says Jenny Bird, a coordinator for the program's chapter at St. Louis University.

While these programs focus on getting the food to those in need, others take a different tack. Many colleges have changed their food service programs to reduce waste by eliminating trays and reducing plate sizes. Still other programs keep inedible food waste from going into landfills by composting the waste. The finished compost is given away to community gardens.

1 Comment

  • rivergait  on  3/3/2015 at 7:56 PM

    What can one do to convince a grocery store (large chain) to release less-than-perfect produce for your animals' consumption. Our local store has a 32 gallon garbage can next to the fresh corn during the summer for folks to strip off the outsides before going home. My horses LOVE the husks, and ate them voraciously for 2 weeks, until the store manager heard From Above that all husks would henceforth go to the composter (which produces methane and is not the clean solution the stores would have you believe).

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