It’s estimated that 48.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households in 2014, according to Feeding America. And an estimated 100 billion pounds of food are thrown away annually in the United States. Reducing food losses by 30 percent would be enough food to feed more than 50 million Americans every year.
There are many things you can do to make a difference, and right now is the perfect time to start. From purging your cupboards to buying imperfect produce, each simple act supports ways to reduce an unnecessary epidemic we can work together to resolve.
Clear the Fridge
One way to avoid wasting food is to turn an assortment of ingredients that have been hanging out in the fridge into “everything but the kitchen sink” concoctions or “scraps for a colorful scrambles” meals. These creative food-saving efforts can be created from last night’s doggie bag to last weekend’s farmer’s market leftovers. If you make a habit of doing this, pretty soon you’ll lead the efforts to help fill people with food instead of landfills where leftover food waste accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions.
Many local food banks accept food scraps with the excess food you are unable to consume. Just be sure the food you donate from your fridge is compostable, like fruit and vegetables and their peels. Find out what the full list on what can be composted here. By nourishing the earth, you are helping nourish your community, too.
De-clutter the Pantry
Take inventory of what you have. This isn’t a lengthy process and can be an easy way to remove what you know won’t be consumed. If something is unopened and has not expired, you have something to add to a food donation pile. Sell-by and use-by dates are not federally regulated and do not indicate safety, except on certain baby foods. They are manufacturer suggestions for peak quality, according to the National Resources Defense Council. Most foods can be safely consumed after their use-by dates, however donating foods before this date is best. A good question to ask yourself is, “Would I feed my child or family member the same food I donate?” Assuming the answer is yes, it’s great fuel for the food donation pile.
SuperFood Drive educates communities about the health benefits of eating nutrient-dense non-perishables and provides helpful guidelines on specific foods. If you feel inspired by the significant difference you can make in your community, this site also provides guidelines to host your own food drive. These contributions support the nationwide Food Bank Network initiatives for healthy options.
Share Your Garden’s Bounty
Do you have an abundance of veggies in your garden or know someone who does? If so, donate the extra produce to AmpleHarvest.org. This organization’s main focus is to eliminate the waste of fresh food to support the hungry and malnourished in communities across the country.
Supporting their efforts provides nourishment to 7,544 food pantries and soup kitchens across all 50 states. With a bit of forethought and minimal effort you can support the Plant A Row For The Hungry initiative when you prepare your next garden. Donating a bag of extra produce from your home or school garden is a wonderful way for gardeners and other growers to take part in improving community health, while also helping the environment.
Buy Imperfect Produce
Oftentimes grocery stores discard produce because of minor cosmetic blemishes. Reduce the amount of food waste by buying those imperfect fruits and vegetables, and donate it to a local food bank. Your efforts will support the Ugly Fruit and Vegetable Campaign, which saves approximately 26 percent of food that is wasted due to cosmetic reasons.
Buy One Get One Free
Are you a fan of coupons and weekly specials? Next time you’re shopping at the local store or browsing through a supermarket catalog and run across a buy-one, get-one-free opportunity, take advantage. Buy one for yourself, and set the other aside to feed the hungry. This is a simple, cost-effective way to make a life-saving difference for someone in need.